Sunday, April 4, 2010

What the US embassy wants you to know

Safety Precautions during Semana Santa: March 27 - April 4, 2010
This message is being issued to urge U.S. citizens to exercise extra caution over the Semana Santa (Holy Week) holiday next week. Semana Santa is a religious holiday in which thousands of people leave Managua to visit beaches and other tourist sites across Nicaragua.

The U.S. Embassy recommends that adults supervise their children at all times while in or near water. Many of Nicaragua's best-known resorts do not employ lifeguards to supervise swimmers. Nicaragua's Pacific coast is generally regarded one of the most treacherous in the world and emergency rescue and medical services are largely non-existent.

And in general, don’t forget . . .

Nicaragua lacks tourist infrastructure. Except in the cities and major thoroughfares, most roads are unpaved. Public transportation is unsafe and there are no sidewalks. Most essential services are sporadic. Most hospitals are substandard.

Domestic travel within Nicaragua by land and air, particularly to the Atlantic side, can be dangerous. Domestic airlines use small airstrips with minimal safety equipment and little boarding security.

Police coverage is extremely sparse outside of major urban areas, particularly in Nicaragua’s Atlantic coast autonomous regions. Lack of adequate police coverage has resulted in these areas being used by drug traffickers and other criminal elements. Street crime and petty theft are a common problem in Puerto Cabezas, Bluefields and the Corn Islands along the Atlantic coast. For security reasons, the Embassy has limited travel by its staff to the North and South Atlantic Autonomous Regions (RAAN and RAAS), including the Corn Islands. Given the area’s geographical isolation, the Embassy’s ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens who choose to travel in the Caribbean costal area is constrained. Police presence on Little Corn Island is made up of volunteers with little to no formal training, and is minimal on Corn Island and other remote areas.

In late 2007, a U.S. citizen was assaulted and violently raped while on vacation in Little Corn Island. U.S. citizens have previously been the victims of sexual assault on this island and other beaches in the country. The Embassy recommends traveling in groups when in isolated areas. Single travelers should exercise special caution while traveling in the Corn Islands and other remote areas of the country.

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