United States defends travel advisory issued for Trinidad and Tobago | New

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC — The United States on Sunday sought to defend its decision to issue a travel advisory against Trinidad and Tobago earlier this month, after Port of Spain said it was surprised by the notice that urged Americans to stay away from the capital as violence and shootings occur regularly.

In a statement, the U.S. Embassy in Trinidad said the travel advisory was updated Oct. 5, “due to a change in health restrictions for COVID-19,” adding that ” the safety and security aspects of the advice have not changed”.

“Travel warnings do not target specific countries. Each country is assigned an overall travel advisory level from 1 to 4. The Department’s travel advisory levels are based on established risk indicators such as health, crime, terrorism, kidnappings or hostage takings, civil unrest, natural disasters and other potential risks,” the embassy said.

“Each country’s level is based on an assessment of domestic conditions that could affect the well-being or safety of U.S. citizens,” he added.

In its advisory, while Washington maintained a level 2 for Trinidad and Tobago, it issued a level 4 advisory for Port of Spain that advises US citizens not to travel there.

Additionally, he stated that US government personnel were not permitted to travel to several areas, including all beaches, and stated that “violent crimes, such as murder, robbery, assault , sexual assault, home invasion and kidnapping, are common” and that “gang activity, such as drug trafficking is common. A significant portion of violent crime is gang-related.

“Terrorists can attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist sites, transport hubs, markets/malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks , major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports and other public spaces.

But National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds said Trinidad and Tobago had not had major terrorist activity “for many years, perhaps not since 1990”.

However, the United States Embassy insisted that the notices be updated when a change in any part of the notice occurs or when the notice is lowered.

“The Department of State has no greater responsibility than the safety and security of American citizens abroad. We are committed to providing American citizens with the most current, fact-based, accurate, and transparent information to keep U.S. citizens informed while abroad,” the embassy added.

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