Colombia Travel Warning

Office of the Spokesman


July 3, 2002

This Travel Warning revises the Travel Warning of April 17, 2001 and alerts Americans to ongoing security concerns due to continuing violence in the region.

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to Colombia. Violence by narcotraffickers, guerrillas, illegal self-defense (paramilitary) groups and other criminal elements continues to affect all parts of the country, both urban and rural. Citizens of the United States and other countries continue to be the victims of threats, kidnappings, domestic airline hijackings and murders. Threats targeting official and long-term resident Americans are expected to continue and possibly increase in response to U.S. support for Colombian drug eradication programs. Colombian groups have been known to operate in the border areas of neighboring countries, creating similar dangers for travelers in those areas. Bombings have occurred through out Colombia, including urban areas, and some foreign interests have been among the targets.

Last year, more than 3,000 people were reported kidnapped throughout Colombia, and there is a greater risk of being kidnapped in Colombia than in any other country in the world. In the past two years, 18 Americans were reported kidnapped in various parts of the country. Most kidnappings of U.S. citizens in Colombia have been committed by guerrilla groups, including the Revolutionary Armed Forcesof Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN), which were both initially designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations by the Secretary of Statein 1997 and re-designated as such in October 2001. Most kidnappings have occurred in rural areas, with a few occurring on the fringes of cities. Since it is U.S. policy not to make concessions to terrorists, the U.S. Government’s ability to assist kidnapped U.S. citizens is limited.

For further information concerning travel to Colombia, travelers should consult the Department of State’s latest Consular Information Sheet for Colombia at