Message from the U.S. Embassy

From: Consular, La Paz [mailto:ConsularLapaz@state.gov]
Sent: Saturday, September 13, 2008 5:19 PM
Subject: Warden Message – Civil Unrest – September 13, 2008

Dear Warden:

Below please find a Warden Message from the U.S. Embassy in La Paz, Bolivia. Please share this warden message with any U.S. citizens in Bolivia with whom you have contact. We hope this information is useful to you. If we may provide further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely,

American Citizen Services Unit

U.S. Embassy La Paz, Bolivia

WARDEN MESSAGE

U.S. EMBASSY LA PAZ, BOLIVIA

September 13, 2008 at 5:40 p.m.

A Travel Warning has been sent out informing U.S. citizens that the Department of State has authorized the departure of non-emergency personnel and all family members of U.S. Embassy personnel in Bolivia and suggests all U.S. citizens defer non-essential travel to Bolivia.  U.S. citizens currently in Bolivia should remain vigilant, monitor local media, review their security posture on a regular basis, and consider departing if the situation allows.

At this time, all air carriers are flying, except for American Airlines flights between Bolivia and Miami which have been canceled over the next few days.  American Airlines suggests that those travelers affected by these flight cancellations should contact AA via 800-100229 in Bolivia or http://www.aa.com to confirm flights and make reservations.  All airports are open, except for airports in the cities of Tarija, Trinidad, and Cobija, in the Departments of Chuquisaca, Beni, and Pando, respectively.  This information is subject to change at any time, so U.S. citizens should stay current with media coverage of local events.  American citizens may wish to access tips on emergency preparedness through the Department of Homeland Security’s web site at http://www.dhs.gov/xcitizens/editorial_0711.shtm.

The U.S. Embassy in La Paz continues to review its security posture and may, from time to time, close for routine services. U.S. consular personnel remain available to provide emergency information and services to U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens in need of Embassy assistance should call the Embassy’s Consular Section at (591) 2-216-8297 during working hours (M-F, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or 216-8500 after hours or on weekends.

U.S. citizens should be aware of possible mass street demonstrations and blockades if planning travel to or within Bolivia. Roadblocks may also affect the route to and from airports with little or no prior notice.  U.S. citizens are encouraged to avoid the areas where these mass assemblies and demonstrations are expected to occur. Under no circumstances should anyone attempt to run a roadblock, even if they appear unattended.   You are reminded that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational between security forces, demonstrators, and bystanders, and escalate into violence. Americans are urged to avoid the areas of demonstrations and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any protests. If you find yourself in the vicinity of a large gathering, it is recommended you leave the area immediately for your own safety.

The police are on a heightened alert for potential civil unrest. Traffic is expected to be congested throughout all major cities. Because the police will be involved in addressing potential civil unrest, there will be minimal municipal patrols. As a result, you can expect criminals to take advantage of large crowds and use ruse or diversionary tactics to prey on potential street victims. Pick-pocketing, purse snatching, and car thefts are the most common street crimes during such periods. Everyone is advised to limit their cash on hand, unnecessary credit cards, jewelry, and other portable valuables.

In addition to civil unrest in cities, it is not uncommon for roads between cities to be blocked by protesters or marchers. If you are planning to travel by land (bus, rented vehicle or other), please reconsider your travel plans and check with the local police (‘Unidad Operativa de Transito’) to see if the road to your destination is open. You could become a convenient target of opportunity. Please note that the police have limited capabilities outside major cities and communication is poor.

Consular Agencies in Cochabamba and Santa Cruz may not be opened to the public, depending on local conditions.  However, U.S. consular personnel remain available to provide emergency information and services to U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens in need of Embassy assistance should call the Embassy’s Consular Section at (591) 2-216-8297 during working hours (M-F, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.), or 216-8500 after hours or on weekends,  or via email at USCit.Services.Bolivia@gmail.com.

Americans residing or traveling in Bolivia are encouraged to register and update their contact information at the U.S. Embassy in La Paz, or the U.S. consular agencies in Cochabamba and Santa Cruz, Bolivia, when open. Registration may be done online and can be done in advance of travel. Information on registering may be found at the Department of State’s Consular Affairs web site: https://travelregistration.state.gov.

U.S. citizens should consult the Country Specific Information for Bolivia and the latest Travel Alerts and Warnings and Worldwide Caution at the Department’s web site at http://travel.state.gov. Updated information on travel and security in Bolivia may also be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 within the United States or by calling 1-202-501-4444 outside the United States. During regular work hours, the American Citizens Services unit at the Embassy in La Paz may be reached at 591-2-216-8297. The consular agencies may be reached in Santa Cruz at 591-3-351-3477 and in Cochabamba at 591-3-411-6313, when they re-open.

We hope this information is useful to you. If we may provide further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely,

American Citizen Services Unit

U.S. Embassy La Paz, Bolivia

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