Safety Precautions during Semana Santa
This message is being issued to advise American 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. During Semana Santa police checkpoints on all major roads and intersections are to be expected. Traffic is heavy, especially on the Saturday and Sunday before Semana Santa (April 4 - 5) and the following Wednesday through Sunday (April 8 - 12).
Americans are urged to obey all traffic laws and stay within posted speed limits. The U.S. Embassy reminds Americans that driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal and a prosecutable offense. Defensive driving is also highly recommended. Travel only during daylight hours. Roads outside Managua are always dangerous at night because of pedestrian traffic hazards and the presence of negligent or drunk drivers.
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. The Nicaraguan Pacific Coast is generally thought to be one of the most treacherous in the world and is not guarded by emergency rescue or medical services.
Finally, remember to use your common sense in guarding your property and person. This is the high season for petty thefts and other types of minor crimes. These crimes include, but are not limited to, assaults by intoxicated people at bars, verbal assaults of a sexual nature, car-jackings while vehicles are parked in front of gasoline stations and restaurants, and other events of this nature. Keep your eyes open and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
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. Violent robberies within taxis, express kidnappings, and car jackings are on the rise.
U.S. citizens have been targeted by criminals posing as Nicaraguan police officers who stop their vehicles – including those operated by reputable hotels – for inspection. In such cases, the incidents happened after dark and involved gun-wielding assailants who robbed passengers of all valuables and drove them to remote locations where they were left to fend for themselves. The U.S. Embassy warns U.S. citizens to exercise extreme caution when driving at night from Managua’s International Airport and to avoid traveling the Tipitapa-Masaya Highway at night.
U.S. citizens should exercise caution when approached by strangers offering assistance. Several U.S. citizens traveling by bus from San Juan del Sur to Managua have reported being victimized by fellow women travelers who offered to assist them in locating and/or sharing a taxi upon arrival in Managua. In all cases, upon entering the taxi, the U.S. citizens were held at knife-point, robbed of their valuables, and driven around to ATM machines to withdraw funds from their accounts. Violent robberies within taxis are on the rise.
Violent criminal activities and petty crime are also increasing in tourist destinations like San Juan del Sur. American citizens have been the victims of armed robberies by assailants wielding machetes, knives, and/or guns along the beaches in and around San Juan del Sur. U.S. citizens should exercise particular caution when visiting the following beaches: Maderas, Marsella, Yankee, Coco, and Remanso.
The U.S. Embassy wishes you all a fun and safe vacation. Be careful and enjoy your vacation!
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 011-505-2-252-7100. 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 011-505-2-252-7888. 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.
U.S. citizens are urged to register and update their contact information at the following website: https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui.