Safety Precautions during Semana Santa: March 27 - April 4, 2010
This message is being issued to urge U.S. 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, the Nicaraguan National Police traditionally operate checkpoints on all major roads and intersections. Traffic can be heavy on principal highways, especially on the Saturday and Sunday before Semana Santa (March 27-28) and the following Wednesday through Sunday (March 31 - April 4).

U.S. citizens 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. Nicaragua's Pacific coast is generally regarded one of the most treacherous in the world and emergency rescue and medical services are largely non-existent.

Remember to use common sense in protecting your property and person. This is the high season for petty thefts and other types of 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.

U.S. citizens should exercise caution when approached by strangers offering assistance. Several U.S. citizens traveling by bus in San Juan del Sur, Granada, Masaya, Leon and Managua have reported being victimized by fellow travelers who offered to assist them in locating and/or sharing a taxi. 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 express taxi kidnappings of U.S. citizens have increased in the past year.

Violent criminal activities and petty crime are also increasing in tourist destinations like San Juan del Sur and Granada. 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.

Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the U.S. Embassy's website (http://nicaragua.usembassy.gov <http://nicaragua.usembassy.gov/> ) and the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs' website www.travel.state.gov <http://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/...fety_1747.html <http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/...fety_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 Embassy can be reached 24/7 at 011-505-2252-7100. For emergencies (deaths, arrests, etc.) after hours, U.S. citizens should call this phone number, or 011-505-8886-1495, and ask for the Embassy Duty Officer. The Embassy's American Citizen Services unit may also be reached by email at: ACS.Managua@state.gov.

General information regarding consular services is available by calling 011-505-2252-7888. The Embassy offers non-emergency services to U.S. citizens Monday through Friday, from 1:00 to 3:00 PM, except on Nicaraguan and U.S. holidays.