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Travel Warning: Columbia

Originally released May 04, 2005, this information is current as of Thursday, June 02, 2005. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid a certain country.

This Travel Warning is being issued to remind American citizens of ongoing security concerns in Colombia. This supersedes the Travel Warning issued March 3, 2004.

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the dangers of travel to Colombia. Violence by narcoterrorist groups and other criminal elements continues to affect all parts of the country, urban and rural, and border areas. Citizens of the United States and other countries continue to be the victims of threats, kidnappings, and other violence.

Violence has decreased markedly in most urban centers, including Bogota, Medellin, Barranquilla, and Cartagena. Nevertheless, since the year 2000, 32 Americans were reported kidnapped in various parts of the country, including four in 2004. No one can be considered immune on the basis of occupation, nationality or any other factor. A number of kidnappings are committed by terrorist groups, including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). The FARC are suspected of being responsible for holding captive three Americans since February 2003. The U.S. government places the highest priority on the safe recovery of kidnapped Americans. However, it is U.S. policy not to make concessions to, or strike deals with terrorists, so the U.S. government’s ability to assist kidnapped U.S. citizens is limited.

Violence in Cali and the surrounding areas remains high, much of it related to the illicit drug trade. Much of rural Colombia also remains extremely dangerous due to the presence of narcoterrorists and Colombian government operations against them. While family members are allowed to accompany U.S. government officials assigned to Colombia, in-country travel by U.S. officials and their families is subject to restrictions. Travel by air is allowed to all major cities, but urban and intra-city bus transportation is off-limits to official Americans. U.S. citizens should not travel by road outside of urban areas at night.

As the Department continues to develop information on any potential security threats to U.S. citizens overseas, it shares credible threat information through its Consular Information Program documents, available on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov. U.S. travelers can also get up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 in the U.S. or Canada or on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State’s Consular Information Sheet for Colombia and the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement at http://travel.state.gov.

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