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US and Canada update Trinidad and Tobago travel advisories

By Eve George
Caribbean News Now senior correspondent

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — The Canadian High Commission and the US Embassy in Port of Spain, Trinidad, have updated their travel advisories to citizens wishing to travel to Trinidad and Tobago in light of recent ISIS terror plots and the upsurge in crime.

The US and Canadian travel advisory was updated one day after diplomats met with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and government minister Stuart Young. On Wednesday, Rowley met with British High Commissioner Tim Stew; Australian High Commissioner, John Pilbeam; Canadian High Commissioner, Carla Hogan Rufelds; and United States Chargé d‘Affaires, John McIntyre.

A release from the office of the Prime Minister stated that discussions centered on “the successful management” of the recent national security challenges, referring to a terrorist plot to disrupt Carnival.

The United Kingdom and Australia have also previously issued travel advisories warning of crime and terrorism in Trinidad and Tobago, which were published before Carnival celebrations.

The US travel advisory issued on February 22, 2018, reads as follows:

Trinidad and Tobago – Level 2: Increased Caution

Terrorism: Terrorist attacks have occurred and/or specific threats against civilians, groups, or other targets may exist.

Crime: Widespread violent or organized crime is present in areas of the country. Local law enforcement may have limited ability to respond to serious crimes.

Exercise increased caution in Trinidad and Tobago due to crime and terrorism. Some areas have increased risk.

Do not travel to Laventille, Beetham, Sea Lots, Cocorite, and the interior of Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain due to crime.

Violent crime, such as murder, robbery, assault, sexual assault, home invasion, and kidnapping, is common.

Gang activity, such as narcotics trafficking, is common. A significant portion of violent crime is gang-related.

Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, and other public areas.

If you decide to travel to Trinidad and Tobago:

  • Use caution when walking or driving at night.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Do not display overt signs of wealth, such as expensive watches or jewelry.
  • Be extra vigilant when visiting ATMs.
  • Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • Monitor local media for breaking events and adjust your plans based on new information.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Report for Trinidad and Tobago.
  • US citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations.
  • Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

Port of Spain

Violence and shootings occur regularly in some areas of Port of Spain. US government personnel are prohibited from travelling to the following areas: Laventille, Beetham, Sea Lots, Cocorite, and the interior of Queens’ Park Savannah. After dark, U.S. government personnel are prohibited from travelling to downtown Port of Spain, Fort George overlook, and all beaches.

According to the government of Canada, violent crime, including armed robberies, assaults and sexual assault, occur frequently on the island of Trinidad, especially in the capital, Port of Spain. Tourists have been targeted.

Cruise ship passengers should be very careful when walking around the docks in Port of Spain. Shootings, kidnappings and other gang- and drug-related violence occur. There is a risk of you being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Remain highly vigilant in Laventille, Beetham Gardens and at popular tourist sites such as Fort George, La Brea (Pitch Lake) and Las Cuevas Beach, where criminals have targeted foreigners. Gangs have followed cars leaving Trinidad’s Piarco International Airport to rob travellers at their destination.

Avoid unpopulated areas, such as scenic lookouts, especially after dark.

Avoid visiting isolated and unpatrolled beaches due to the risk of crime. On certain beaches, security is only provided from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Ensure that your personal belongings, passport and other travel documents are secure at all times. Do not carry large amounts of cash or show signs of affluence. If possible, stay in hotels or villas with guards and security cameras.

If possible, avoid travel outside Port of Spain after dark, especially along the Beetham Highway. Criminals have targeted cars stopped on this road and victims have been carjacked, assaulted and robbed. Drive with windows closed and doors locked, since thefts can occur at traffic lights or in slow-moving traffic.

Home invasions are common. If you are staying in either private or commercial accommodations, you should be aware of your surroundings at all times and ensure that windows and doors are securely locked.

There is little visible police presence in most areas of Trinidad

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