December 1, 2009
As reported in our Country Specific Information brochure on Nicaragua (http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_985.html#safety), violent crime in Nicaragua is increasing. Nicaragua also 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.
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.
Violent taxi kidnappings 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 in and around San Juan del Sur, San Jorge, Granada, Leon, Managua, and Masaya. 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, sexual assaulted, stabbed, and even murdered. After the assault, the U.S. citizen victims were left abandoned and destitute in remote areas.
The U.S. Embassy recommends that American citizens use only officially registered taxicabs. Radio-dispatched taxis are generally reliable and can normally be found at the International Airport and larger hotels.
In the past few months, the Embassy has received several reports of U.S. citizens being victims of armed robbery when stopping at the Momotombo Mirador on the New Leon Highway. They have reported that they are approached by a group of five armed men, threatened and held at knife-point close to the lake while they are robbed of all their belongings.
La Purisima – December 7
Many Nicaraguans will celebrate “La Purisima – Griteria” on December 7. During this Catholic celebration, streets all over the country will be crowded starting at around 4:00 PM. In Managua, vehicle access might be restricted in several areas around the city, especially on Avenida Bolivar 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 might still be discharged.
Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the U.S. Embassy’s website (http://nicaragua.usembassy.gov) and the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website www.travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information can be found. The U.S. Embassy also encourages U.S. citizens to review to "A Safe Trip Abroad," found at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/safety/safety_1747.html, which includes valuable security information for those both living and traveling abroad. In addition to information on the Internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada, or outside the U.S. and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.
The U.S. Embassy in Managua is located at Km 5 ½ C. Sur Managua, Nicaragua. The U.S. Embassy in Managua can be reached 24/7 at 011-505-2252-7100. For emergencies (deaths, arrests, etc.) after hours, U.S. citizens can call this phone number and ask for the Embassy Duty Officer. The ACS unit is also available by email at ACS.Managua@state.gov.
General information regarding consular services is available by calling 011-505-2252-7888. Non-emergency services for U.S. citizens are available Monday through Friday, 1:00 to 3:00 PM, except on Nicaraguan and U.S. holidays.