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Security Alert: U.S. Embassy Bogota – Cartagena Independence Day Festivities 2023
November 8, 2023

Location: Cartagena

Event: The Embassy advises U.S. citizens to maintain a high level of security awareness and take extra safety precautions while transiting the city throughout the November 9-12 Independence Day festivities.

An increase in petty theft is expected, along with the potential for ad hoc non-police checkpoints and confrontations for money and/or valuables.

The Embassy recommends that U.S. citizen avoid areas/neighborhoods east of Centro Commercial Caribe Plaza.  Pay extra precaution if you need to drive through these areas as many illegal road blockages can be found on the streets to ask for money.  Stay on main routes only, avoid large crowds, and avoid confrontations with festival participants.  There have been reports of individuals manning blockades and throwing paint or rocks at vehicles who do not contribute coins as they pass.

The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens visiting Colombia of the potential for interaction with criminals using scopolamine or other drugs to temporarily incapacitate unsuspecting victims and then rob or assault them.  Victims of scopolamine-related crimes are often targeted in bars, night clubs, or through dating apps.  Avoid leaving food or drinks unattended at a bar or restaurant, and refuse offers of something to eat or drink from a stranger.

The Embassy also reminds U.S. citizens visiting Colombia that U.S. government employees are prohibited from hailing taxis on the street due to the risk of assault or robbery.  U.S. citizens have been killed during robberies while using taxis.  Use a dispatch service or cell phone app whenever possible.

The U.S. Department of State advises citizens to reconsider travel to Colombia due to crime, terrorism, and COVID-19 and to exercise increased caution in Colombia due to civil unrest and kidnapping. The full Travel Advisory for Colombia can be found here. 

Actions to Take   

  • Keep a low profile. 
  • Exercise vigilance.    
  • Be aware of your surroundings.  
  • Use caution when in areas with less police presence. 
  • Keep car doors locked and windows rolled up. 
  • Do not display signs of wealth, such as by wearing expensive jewelry or watches. 
  • Never leave food or drinks unattended in public.   
  • Never accept drinks or food from strangers. 
  • Do not invite strangers into your lodging or residence. 
  • Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.  
  • Avoid hailing taxis; use a dispatch service or cell phone app whenever possible.
  • Plan for alternative travel routes.