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Cablegate: Travel Warning - Colombia

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UNCLAS STATE 085112

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CASC PTER ASEC CO
SUBJECT: TRAVEL WARNING - COLOMBIA

1. This Travel Warning updates and reminds American
citizens of ongoing security concerns in Colombia. The
Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens of the
dangers of travel to Colombia. While security in Colombia
has improved significantly in recent years, violence by
narco-terrorist groups continues to affect some rural areas
and cities. The potential for violence by terrorists and
other criminal elements exists in all parts of the
country. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning
for Colombia issued February 05, 2008.

2. Violence has decreased markedly in many urban areas;
however, the level of violence in Buenaventura remains
high. Small towns and rural areas of Colombia can still be
extremely dangerous due to the presence of narco-
terrorists. Common crime remains a significant problem in
many urban and rural areas. For additional details about
the general criminal threat, please see the Department of
State's Country Specific Information for Colombia.


3. The incidence of kidnapping in Colombia has diminished
significantly from its peak at the beginning of this
decade. Nevertheless, terrorist groups such as the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National
Liberation Army (ELN), and other criminal organizations
continue to kidnap and hold civilians for ransom or as
political bargaining chips. No one is immune from
kidnapping on the basis of occupation, nationality, or
other factors. Kidnapping in rural areas is of particular
concern. On July 2, 2008, the Government of Colombia
rescued 15 hostages, including three Americans, who had
been held for more than 5 years. Although the U.S.
government places the highest priority on the safe recovery
of kidnapped Americans, it is U.S. policy not to make
concessions to or strike deals with kidnappers.
Consequently, the U.S. government's ability to assist
kidnapping victims is limited.

4. U.S. government officials and their families in Colombia
are permitted to travel to major cities in the country, but
normally only by air. They cannot use inter- or intra-city
bus transportation, or travel by road outside urban areas
at night. All Americans in Colombia are urged to follow
these precautions.

5. As the Department develops information on potential
security threats to U.S. citizens overseas, it shares
credible threats through its Consular Information Program
documents, available on the Internet at
http://travel.state.gov. U.S. citizens should consult
warden messages for Colombia at
http://bogota.usembassy.gov/acs_wardenmessage .html and
http://bogota.usembassy.gov/wwwsc093.shtml, as well as the
Department of State's Country Specific Information for
Colombia and the Worldwide Caution at
http://travel.state.gov. U.S. travelers can also get up-
to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-
888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada or for
overseas callers, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.
6. Minimize considered.
RICE

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