Thursday, December 26, 2013

Honduras: US Department of State Updates Travel Warning, See Security Tips Below

The US Department of State continues to warn US citizens that the level of crime and violence in Honduras remains critically high. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning dated June 17, 2013, and includes additional information on crime and security in Honduras, as well as updated contact information. 

Crime and violence are serious problems throughout the country, and the Government of Honduras lacks the resources to address these issues. Since 2010, Honduras has had the highest murder rate in the world. 

Various institutions and government agencies are still analyzing statistics for 2013. The National Violence Observatory, an academic research institution based out of Honduras’ National Public University, reports that the murder rate was slightly above 81 murders per 100,000 people for January through November.    

US citizens do not appear to be targeted based on their nationality, yet foreigners are targeted largely because of their being perceived as "lucrative" victims.

Most "all-inclusive" resort areas and tourist destinations have lower levels of crime and violence than other areas of the country, though still high by international standards. 

In 2012, the Government of Honduras increased police presence and established special police forces in areas frequented by tourists, such as the Copan Mayan ruins and Roatán. 

The Honduran Government is evaluating similar options for other locations, and major hotels, and other tourist installations have increased private and police security. Some businesses report that extra security costs account for up to 15% of their total expenditures. 

The vast majority of serious crimes in Honduras, including those against US citizens, are never solved; of the 50 murders committed against US citizens since 2008, police have only solved two homicides. 

Members of the Honduran National Police are known to engage in criminal activity, including murder and car theft. The Government of Honduras lacks sufficient resources to properly investigate and prosecute cases, and police often lack vehicles or fuel to respond to calls for assistance. In practice, this means police may take hours to arrive at the scene of a violent crime, or may not respond at all. As a result, criminals operate with a high degree of impunity throughout Honduras. The Honduran government is in the early stages of substantial reforms to its criminal justice institutions. 

Transnational criminal organizations also conduct narcotics trafficking and other unlawful activities throughout the country, using violence to control drug trafficking routes and carry out criminal activity. Other criminals, acting both individually and in gangs in Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, and other large cities, commit crimes such as murder, kidnapping, extortion, carjacking, armed robbery, rape, and other aggravated assaults. 

Kidnappings and disappearances are an ongoing concern throughout the country as well. Kidnapping affects both the local and expatriate communities, with victims sometimes paying large ransoms for the prospect of release. Kidnapping is believed to be significantly under-reported.

US citizens should be vigilant of their surroundings at all times and in all locations, especially when entering or exiting their homes, hotels, cars, garages, schools, and workplaces. Whenever possible, US citizens should travel in groups of two or more. It is also advisable to avoid wearing expensive or expensive-looking jewelry and carrying large sums of money or displaying cash, ATM/credit cards, or other valuables. 

US citizens should avoid walking at night in most areas of Honduras or walking alone on beaches, historic ruins, and trails. Incidents of crime along roads, including carjacking and kidnapping, are also common in Honduras. Motorists should avoid traveling at night and always drive with their doors locked to deter potential robberies at traffic lights and on congested downtown streets. 

The location and timing of criminal activity is unpredictable in Honduras. The US Embassy recommends that all travelers exercise caution when traveling anywhere in the country; however, certain areas of the country demonstrate higher levels of criminal activity than others. Most of Honduras’ major cities (Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba, and others), as well as several Honduran “departments” (a geographic designation similar to US states) have homicide rates higher than the national average for 2013 thus far, including: 

For the full text of the updated travel warning:

See http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_6236

COMMENT: In contrast to the aforementioned updated travel warning, Ed Lee, the author of this daily blog, urges foreign tourists to avoid Honduras unless they speak Spanish, fully understand the serious security threats that prevail in the country and are among the small percentage of travelers that as a matter of course possess a high sense of personal security awareness:

http://www.stayingsafeabroad.blogspot.com

For those who must travel to Honduras on essential business, I urge the following:  

1. Read my Security Tips for São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro "word for word";

2. Stay only at an "all-inclusive" resort;

3. NEVER, EVER resist an armed robbery in Honduras. Armed Robbery is a frequent occurrence, particularly for those who don't follow my advice. Honduran criminals will shoot you with no compunction. Once you're dead, there are no "come-backs";

4. Never walk at NIGHT anywhere in the country;

5. Never carry more than $100 and be prepared to give up all of your valuables; and

6. Don't carry a "smart-phone" worth $500-1,000. It is not worth dying over. Order an inexpensive "unlocked, quad-band mobile" like I did. No criminal has never wanted it!

NOTE: The 2014 issue of my completely updated book, STAYING SAFE ABROAD: TRAVELING, WORKING AND LIVING IN A POST-9/11 WORLD will be available in April. Reserve your copy NOW by emailing me and telling me how many you want to reserve:

E-book is: $5.00

Printed book is $19.95

ed@sbrisksolutions.com