IN ITS second travel advisory for this year, the United States Embassy has placed a ban on all US Government personnel from travelling to certain areas in Port of Spain.
In fact this latest advisory goes as far as prohibiting travel by US government personnel to downtown Port of Spain after dark. The advisory which is at Level II (Exercise Increased Caution) was posted yesterday on the Embassy website and follows a travel advisory that was issued just prior to the Carnival season.
In this latest advisory, the Embassy advised Americans visiting and/or living/working in Trinidad and Tobago to exercise ‘increased caution’ due to crime and terrorism. “Do not travel to some areas of Port of Spain due to crime,” it warned. The advisory specifically stated that murder, robbery, assault, sexual assault, home invasion and kidnapping are common. Gang activity, it added, such as narcotics trafficking is also common and that 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,’ the advisory stated.
Under a heading marked Port of Spain, the advisory sets out a ban on US government personnel from going to certain areas of the country. Violence and shootings, the advisory stated, 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, the advisory continues, US government personnel are prohibited from travelling to downtown Port of Spain, Fort George overlook and all beaches.
On February 8, the Embassy issued its first advisory on TT for this year, cautioning tourists of crime and terrorism after the arrest of 13 mainly Muslim suspects in connection with a terror plot aimed at disrupting the Carnival. Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley subsequently stated that the terror plot was no joke, and during the Question and Answer segment in the sitting of the Lower House two Fridays ago, he said that there were ISIS cells in this country.
This latest travel advisory came days after riots erupted in East Port of Spain with residents setting debris on fire and confronting police following the death of Akel “Christmas” James who was shot by police during an anti-crime exercise at his house. Residents claim James was executed by police but the lawmen insist his death was the result of a shootout and that they were fired upon first.
This latest advisory from the US Embassy comes two days after Rowley met with with US Charge d’Affaires John Mcintyre, British High Commissioner to TT Tim Stew, Australian High Commissioner to TT John Pilbeam and Canadian High Commissioner to TT Carla Hogan Rufelds at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) in St Clair for high-level security talks.
Contacted for comment last evening, US Charge d’Affaires Mcintyre said: “The US State Department updated our travel advisory this week. Updated travel advisories were also issued by the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia recently.
We worked closely together on these matters. As I, along with my colleagues from the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia have repeatedly stated; we remain committed to working with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, the Opposition, civil society and all interested parties to ensure a safe and secure Trinidad and Tobago for its citizens and for our citizens who live and visit here.”