HomeNewsBriefLatin America Security Warnings for US Travelers Point to Flawed Policies
BRIEF

Latin America Security Warnings for US Travelers Point to Flawed Policies

COLOMBIA / 11 JAN 2018 BY TRISTAN CLAVEL EN

US authorities have issued new security warnings for individuals traveling to several Latin American countries, pointing to flaws in past and current US policies aimed at addressing crime and violence in the region.

On January 10, the US State Department’s online information platform for travel information announced a new four-level system for describing security conditions in foreign countries. The agency also issued advisories for several Latin American countries suggesting that US citizens reconsider or avoid traveling there.

The State Department asked travelers to reconsider trips to El Salvador, due to violent crime and gang activity. The same applies to neighboring Guatemala and Honduras.

Travel advice was also updated for Colombia. US authorities warned against traveling to a number of departments in Colombia “due to crime and terrorism,” and asked travelers to "exercise increased caution" when visiting the country.

Five Mexican states -- Colima, Michoacán, Guerrero, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas -- were placed in the “Do Not Travel” category due to concerns about high levels of crime, while the government urged citizens to reconsider travel to 11 others.

InSight Crime Analysis

The United States has long worked with many of the countries for which advisories were issued in attempts to bring down their persistently high levels of crime and violence. But the new warnings against traveling to these nations serve as a type of admission that US-backed security policies have often fallen short of their goals.

In the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, for example, the United States has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on security-related aid programs over the past decade with few evaluations of the effectiveness of this funding. Although homicide rates have seen recent decreases in all three countries, they remain among the most violent nations in the world.

Colombia and Mexico have received billions in US security aid over the past decade. And while many security indicators in Colombia have been trending in a positive direction, major concerns linger over the future of the country's criminal landscape amid a huge boom in cocaine production. Mexico, on the other hand, is experiencing levels of violence unseen for years.

SEE ALSO: InDepth Coverage of Homicides

Of course, US policy is hardly the only factor shaping security outcomes in Latin America. But as InSight Crime recently noted, the administration of US President Donald Trump has struggled to find its bearings during its first year, often adopting contradictory rhetoric and counterproductive policies.

For instance, just two days before warning US citizens to rethink traveling to El Salvador, the Trump administration announced that in September 2019 it will rescind immigration protections awarded to Salvadorans following a pair of earthquakes in 2001, putting nearly 200,000 immigrants at risk of deportation to the gang-plagued Central American country.

Officials said the decision was based on a determination that "the original conditions caused by the 2001 earthquakes no longer exist," and that "the temporary inability of El Salvador to adequately return their nationals after the earthquake has been addressed." (The administration made similar arguments last year when it ended protections offered to Haitians after a 2010 earthquake there, and it is weighing whether or not to cancel protections for Hondurans and Nicaraguans.)

However, a number of non-governmental organizations including InSight Crime have argued that the move is likely to exacerbate already high levels of insecurity in El Salvador, and could paradoxically lead to more displacement and migration.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BRAZIL / 2 NOV 2021

Organized crime groups in Latin America continue to expand into illicit synthetic drug production, including mass manufacturing of methamphetamine and…

AUC / 26 JUN 2022

The former paramilitary commander and drug lord, alias “Memo Fantasma,” may walk out of prison in Colombia on June 28.

COLOMBIA / 11 MAR 2021

Forests in Colombia are being ravaged by illegal mining, a criminal economy that has come to rival the drug trade…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…