Port-of-Spain Mayor Joel Martinez says the latest United States (US) Embassy travel advisory warning Americans to stay away from specific areas in Port of Spain because of crime and a possible terrorist threat should be taken seriously.
However, in the same breath, Martinez said he had received “no special information that indicates to me the seriousness of it.”
Speaking to Sunday Newsday yesterday, Martinez admitted he had not read all of the details about the US advisory but said it appeared as though it should not be taken lightly.
“I am concerned, if you are told there is a possibility that there is a threat. But I would say once you are given information that tells you to be cautious and to stay away, then I think I would listen to it quite seriously,” he said.
“So, I would be overly cautious if I were a citizen or a tourist traversing the particular areas because when anything like this happens, the worst thing you would want to happen is the loss of life or the loss of property because somebody decides they want to so something indiscriminately.”
In its second travel advisory for the year, the embassy on Friday sought to ban all US government personnel from travelling to certain areas in and around the capital city. The advisory, which was posted on its website, said Americans should avoid venturing into downtown Port of Spain after dark and also urged them to stay away from Laventille, Beetham, Sea Lots, Cocorite and the interior of the Queen’s Park Savannah.
Martinez said in the absence of a fuller understanding of the issues which informed the advisory, he had no choice but to take it on the basis of its stated intent.
“It seems as though they have data that determines for them that there is a possibility of a terrorist threat or there is some form of danger. And they are just basically cautioning people that if you are traversing in these areas, basically not to go to these places if you don’t have to. It is really what a precautionary alert will tell you.
“It is like when you have rough seas, they will tell you don’t go to bathe. Don’t go out in your craft, fishing boat or pleasure craft unless you have to go but be cautious because there is a rough seas bulletin. There is intelligence that probably tells them that we have a possibility of terror threat.”
Martinez recalled the news of an alleged terror threat at Carnival, where, it was felt that a situation could have developed.
“I had read that it in the papers like anybody else. And on that occasion, I alerted my officers in the city to be aware of anything that seems unusual.”
Regarding this latest advisory, Martinez said he would be cautious in the absence of any further information.