US upgrades Costa Rica travel safety advisory

Cahuita, Limón Province, Costa Rica

Due to its closed proximity to the US, Costa Rica is a popular travel destination for Americans and South Floridians – almost 1.3 million Americans traveled to the Central American country in 2022 - looking for eco travel, beautiful beaches and tour the country’s lush rainforests.

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It has also been considered safe and for having one of the most stable and democratic government in the region. That consideration has been tempered as last week, the U.S. issued a Level 2 alert for Costa Rica, asking those traveling to the Central American country to take extra precautions.

The U.S. government has a 4-level system to advice travelers on the safety outlook for each country:

  • Level 1 – U.S. citizens should exercise normal precautions
  • Level 2 – U.S. citizens should exercise increased caution
  • Level 3 – U.S. citizens should reconsider travel plans
  • Level 4 – U.S. citizens should not travel

The rise in level was due to an increase in violent crimes on the country. While no specific instances or types of crimes were mentioned, travelers should heed the warning.

On its website, the US Embassy in Costa Rica said:

“The U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica advises U.S. citizens of increasing levels of crime, particularly violent crime, in Costa Rica and specifically San Jose. For this reason, the Embassy would like to remind you of the importance of personal safety and situational awareness.”

The Embassy highlighted the capital of San Jose as having most of the recent criminal, which is home to the country’s biggest airport and the hub where most visitors begin their Costa Rica adventures.

Along with the advisory, the Costa Rican U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica provided these safety guidelines:

  • Be watchful when in a public, specifically when exiting a store or venue.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and leave any area that does not feel safe.
  • Do your best not to stand out in a crowd, and it is always best not to be alone.
  • Don’t be flashy – keep valuables such as electronic, jewelry, and money hidden.
  • It is best to walk around at night within a group on well-lit streets. Do not walk alone at night.
  • Provide someone you trust with your contact information and let them know of your whereabouts, such as when and where you will be going.
  • Always lock the doors when leaving your hotel, or vacation rental.
  • When driving, it is advised to keep the vehicle’s’ doors locked at all times.

In a The Tico Times report, Jorge Torres, Costa Rica’s Minister of Public Security, questioned the travel advisory, and promised to meet with US Embassy officials to discuss their rationale for issuing it. Torres also criticized Costa Rica’s judicial branch, calling judges “irresponsible.”

President Chaves and the Ministry of Security agreed that the upsurge in violent crime was due to drug gangs, The Tico Times reported.

For the complete US Embassy advisory, click here.

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