Security Issues When Traveling To Colombia

When traveling to Bogota and Cartagena in Colombia, it is best to be properly apprised of the dangers of travel to the country. These can be obtained as advisories from the country’s embassies to prepare the individual on what to expect when in the country.

According to the latest statistics, terrorism is still a major and continuing threat in the country. Car bombs have become normal modes of attack for these terrorists in the urban areas. There have been many injuries that result of these attacks. The rural areas also have not been spared from these dangers, as these are where many narco-terrorists have known to have home bases for their operations. Narcoterrorists are gangs and other groups that use the production of illegal drugs to fund their activities. The known gangs that operate in the region include BACRIM, the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia and the FARC. The most well organized group remains to be the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or the FARC followed by the National Liberation Army or ELN.

Another mode of criminal activity which target expatriates and tourists is kidnap for ransom. Here, criminal groups abduct and hold civilians and in exchange for their freedom, they seek either monetary concessions or political leverage against the government. This continues to remain as a serious threat to the safety of individuals and in many instances, the victims are killed or raped or even mutilated when returned to freedom. The kidnappings occur in urban or rural areas, either in daylight or during nighttime without regard as to age or sex of the victim.

Thus, it is highly advised that travel to Colombia be planned beforehand and often done by air. Use of public transportation in the country or land travel by night is highly discouraged owing to the security issues on the road. The high-risk areas are in the region in and around Bogota, Anolaima, Cogua and Sesquille while the second high risk region is the Highway 90 corridor that connects the cities of Cartagena, Barranquilla and Santa Marta. These areas are known to be hubs for criminal activity and are often areas where criminal gangs and lawless elements operate in the country.

Aside from these major crimes, other crimes involving property are also a major concern in the country. These include petty theft and robbery, including pick pocketing and other schemes. The major areas for these simple crimes are in the Galerias District, between Carrera 24 to 27 and Calles 53 and 54, and the Plaza de las Americas District, which consists of Avenida Primera de Mayo between Carrera 68 and Avenida Bovaca. These are high crime areas that should be avoided when in Bogota.

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