MESSAGE FOR U.S. CITIZENS
Annual Security Reminder: December 2011
As reported in our Country Specific Information for Nicaragua (…state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_4965.html), violent crime in Nicaragua has increased in recent years. Nicaragua routinely experiences an increase in crime during the month of December, with the theft of jewelry, money, credit cards, vehicles and other valuables in unattended areas being most common. These incidents can also involve violence which may result in serious injury.
The embassy has received recent reports of armed robbery attempts in popular tourist destinations where armed and sometimes masked assailants emerge from roadside locations to attempt to stop vehicles and rob passengers. One common tactic is for assailants to place rocks, tree branches, or other large objects along roads waiting for cars to stop. When the driver gets out of the vehicle to move the obstruction, assailants come out of hiding to rob victims of their belongings and sometimes of their vehicle.
The U.S. Embassy recommends taking appropriate security precautions, particularly while shopping at local markets or malls, and upon arrival at Managua's International Airport and at bus stations. Keep your wallet or purse close to your body. Do not flash cash or carry large sums of money. Pay close attention to your surroundings when withdrawing money from ATM machines. Leave expensive jewelry at home. Avoid crime-prone areas such as Managua's Mercado Oriental. Park in well-lit and non-isolated areas and know the location of your vehicle. It is recommended that travelers keep doors locked and windows up when driving in Managua.
Violent taxi kidnappings, assaults and residential armed robberies are on the rise. U.S. citizens should exercise particular caution when approached by strangers offering assistance with finding a taxi cab. Several U.S. citizens have reported being victimized by fellow travelers who offered to assist them in locating and/or sharing a taxi. Upon entering the taxi, the U.S. citizens were held at knife-point, threatened with bodily injury and/or rape, robbed of their valuables and driven around to ATM machines to withdraw funds from their accounts. Several have been beaten, sexually assaulted, stabbed, and even murdered. After the assaults, the U.S. citizen victims were left abandoned and destitute in remote areas.
The U.S. Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens use only officially registered taxicabs. Radio-dispatched taxis are generally reliable and can normally be found at the International Airport and larger hotels.
La Purisima - December 7
Many Nicaraguans will celebrate "La Purisima - Griteria" on the evening of December 7. During this Catholic celebration, streets all over the country will be crowded starting at around 4:00 PM. In Managua, large concentrations of people are expected at "Plaza de La Revolucion," around the governmental offices and institutions and in many rotundas. Vehicle access might be restricted in several areas around the city due to the celebrations.
Please be advised that fireworks, and possibly firearms, will be discharged during the celebrations. The Nicaraguan National Police have authorized only Police Officers, Nicaraguan Army and Private Security Guards properly identified to carry their weapons on December 7 and December 8. Private individuals are not authorized to carry personal weapons of any kind (firearms, switchblades and knives) on those days. Despite this regulation, firearms may still be discharged.
The U.S. Embassy will be closed on December 8, 2011, for the Nicaraguan Purísima holiday. The Embassy will also be closed on December 26, 2011 in observance of Christmas Day and January 2, 2012 in observance of New Years Day.
In the event of a life or death emergency involving a U.S. citizen please call 8886-1495 or 8882-3140. For all other matters related to American citizen services, please send an email to ACS.Managua@state.gov.
We wish you a safe and happy holiday season.