BY: Daniela Kaňková
Colombia is a safe travel destination as long as you stay conscious of the areas where you are visiting and walking.
As a rule of thumb, do not travel to that remote paradise or jungle destination you saw online if a local tells you not to. Most of the unfortunate situations that have happened to tourists in Colombia are due to travelers going to places against the locals’ advice.
With a seven-color sea (San Andrés), a rainbow river (Caño Cristales) and 54,871 registered species, 3,625 of them unique in the world, Colombia is one of the most amazing places in South America, and the country with the second largest biodiversity in the planet.
LATEST UPDATES / NEWS from COLOMBIA:
May 5 – Colombia presented a new “Security, Defense and Citizen Coexistence,” policy
The fight against deforestation is at the heart of Colombia’s new security strategy, but there are still a number of obstacles in the way of its execution.
In the policy of “Security, Defense and Citizen Coexistence,” presented by the Ministry of Defense on April 25, the concept of security was expanded to include environmental protection. The main goals are to combat illegal mining, manage climate change and stop deforestation.
The fight against deforestation will be led by local communities. The authorities will focus on those who finance deforestation instead of arresting small farmers.
March 21 – Colombian president accuses Clan del Golfo of breaking ceasefire
The Clan del Golfo, the country’s largest criminal organization, has broken a ceasefire, according to Colombian President Gustavo Petro, and if the attacks continue, there will be no chance for negotiations.
The Clan has been implicated in Colombia’s internal violence, which has claimed at least 450,000 lives.
In a radio interview, Petro blamed the gang for the destruction of an urban aqueduct in Antioquia province as part of roadblocks related to protests by informal gold miners.
Up to 300,000 people have been affected by the barricades in 12 towns in two provinces, causing shortages of food, medicine and fuel. Most of the barriers were removed by police last week.
February 16 – LATAM Airlines wants to acquire Viva Air
LATAM, Latin America’s largest airline, has announced its intention to acquire Colombian low-cost carrier Viva Air, becoming the third corporation in the region to do so.
LATAM Airlines Colombia, a subsidiary of the Chile-based LATAM Airlines Group, has announced its own plans to acquire Viva Air.
“In a written communication to the president of Viva Air Colombia … the company has informed that any transaction is subject to a financial analysis (which would be carried out expeditiously), an agreement between the parties, and the corresponding regulatory approvals,” LATAM said in a statement late on Tuesday.
The announcement omitted any financial data on the estimated value of a potential deal.
Important tips to keep in mind when traveling to Colombia
- Avoid crowds and protest areas.
- Keep an eye on local media for breaking news and change your plans accordingly.
- Maintain a modest profile.
- Keep an eye on your surroundings.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it simpler for emergency personnel to locate you.
- Follow the State Department on Facebook and Twitter.
- Examine Colombia’s Country Security Report.
- Prepare a backup plan in case of an emergency. Check out the Traveler’s Checklist.
Silleteros are back!
520 florists participated in the 65th edition of the Silleteros Parade 2022 on August 15, attended by 800,000 spectators spread along one of the highways of the zero zone of Medellín.
This marked the return of physical attendance at the event in the city after two years of pandemic. The event highlights the farmers who came down from the mountain carrying their products. Today, they are beautiful flower arrangements that they carry along a route of 2.4 km along the banks of the Medellin River.
Is it safe to travel to Bogotá?
Bogotá is the largest and most cosmopolitan city in Colombia. Criminal acts such as terrorism are rare, but visitors should be wary of pickpockets,
Is it safe to travel to Medellin?
Medellin is the capital of Antioquia and the second largest city in the country. Again, beware of pickpockets, especially in crowded areas.
Is it safe to travel to Cartagena?
Internationally acclaimed Cartagena is a very safe city. Street vendors may try to rip you off for beer and other items. But just mention the police and prices will be lowered.
Why visit Colombia in times of COVID?
First of all, there are no entry restrictions in Colombia. Also, there is something for all types of travelers. From the Caribbean beaches and Andean mountain peaks to rainforests and other natural wonders. And, of course, coffee! In case you decide to visit Colombia this year, the CDC recommends you be vaccinated.
January 26 – 215 social leaders were murdered in Colombia in 2022
According to the Colombian Ombudsman’s Office, a total of 215 murders of social activists and human rights defenders were committed in Colombia in 2022, a significant increase from the 145 cases the previous year.
Since the Early Warning System began systematically logging these attacks in 2016, this is the year with the highest number of homicides. Official statistics show that a total of 1,113 social leaders were murdered during this period: 133 in 2016, 126 in 2017, 178 in 2018, 138 in 2020, and 145 in 2021.
«It is expected that the dialogues with the ELN and the bilateral ceasefire with other illegal armed groups will also mean a decrease in actions against social leaders and human rights defenders throughout the national territory and an end to this situation», said the Ombudsman, Carlos Camargo in statements to the radio station Caracol Radio.
December 8 – Department of State ranks Colombia at level 3 risk due to rise in crime and terrorism
Colombia may be losing its reputation as one of the best South American destinations for Americans because of numerous allegations of crime, including drug-related assaults and murders. A record number of visitors have been harmed this year; as many as 25 people have died while vacationing in Colombia as a result of the uptick in violence.
The U.S. government claims that Americans should “reconsider” their travel to Colombia because of “crime and terrorism.” The Department of State has classified all of Colombia as a Level 3, meaning that security is compromised, especially in some “high-risk areas,” unlike most states in Mexico, which currently fall under the acceptable Level 2 classification.
November 11 – President Petro calls for “total peace” to Colombia.
Since diplomatic ties between Colombia and Venezuela were cut in 2019, security along the border has deteriorated drastically, causing an increase in fighting and displacement as armed groups compete for the lucrative illicit trade in people and goods.
The National Liberation Army (ELN), the largest guerrilla organization active in the region, and the Colombian government plan to hold negotiations later this month, leaving people on both sides of the border optimistic that the decades-long cycle of war can be ended.
The first direct talks in six years took place Nov. 1, when newly elected Colombian President Gustavo Petro met his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro in Caracas.
October 21 – 20 killed and 15 injured in Colombia bus accident
A bus overturned on the Pan-American Highway in southwestern Colombia, killing at least 20 people and injuring 15 others.
The bus was traveling between Tumaco, a port city in southwestern Colombia, and the touristic city of Cali, 320 kilometers northeast, when the tragedy occurred Saturday.
“Unfortunately, we have a toll of 20 people dead,” said Captain Albertland Agudelo of the Nariño department traffic police.
October – Hundreds of Environmental Defenders Were Killed in Colombia in the Last Decade, according to a recent report.
According to the most recent study by the British human rights NGO Global Witness, Colombia is the country with the second highest number of environmental leaders murdered in the last decade, after Brazil. Since 2012, a total of 1,733 activists have been slain globally, with Latin America accounting for 68% of all incidents.
Few murderers are brought to justice because governments fail to properly investigate the murders. According to the report, authorities either ignore or deliberately obstruct investigations into murders, typically “due to the collusion between corporate and state interests.”
“All over the world, Indigenous peoples and environmental defenders risk their lives for the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss. Activists and communities play a crucial role as a first line of defence against ecological collapse,” said Mike Davis, Global Witness’ CEO.
September – 17 people have been murdered over the last three days in Colombia
Authorities in Colombia said at least 17 people have been killed in a series of violent episodes during the past three days.
Six people were shot dead by gunmen Monday morning in a bar in the tourist city of Barranquilla on Monday morning.
According to police, the attack on members of the rival drug trafficking organization Los Costeños was perpetrated by the powerful drug trafficking gang Gulf Clan.
A teacher, his wife and two children were killed Sunday morning by a group of attackers in the Santander region in the north of the country, according to local authorities.
In an apparent act of revenge, five Venezuelan migrants accused of being involved in the killings were killed by vigilantes.
August – Two Dutch tourists passed away in Cartagena
The mayor’s office of Cartagena reported the death of Dutch tourists Robert Gerrit Kootte and Nienke Guri Trishna Bawa, who are the subject of an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office.
According to the information known so far, the tourists arrived in the city on Saturday, August 20, and were taken by the emergency room to the Medihelp clinic on Monday, where they died.
On Monday evening, the death of the 29-year-old woman was registered, and on Tuesday morning her 31-year-old partner died.
According to the first versions, the tourists, who had been in the city since last weekend, would have died of poisoning.
The Honorary Consul is in contact with the family of the tourists providing full support.
July – The country is better than ever
After the presidential elections on June 19, 2022, where a certain political unrest was expected given that a left-wing candidate won for the first time in history, the country and its tourist cities have remained calmer than ever.
Those interested in visiting can take advantage of the great current currency exchange that favors Americans and Europeans mostly.
the weather is perfect and Colombians are happy to welcome tourists back with open arms
June – Presidential elections in Colombia
Presidential elections were held in Colombia on May 29, 2022. Since none of the presidential candidates received at least 50% of the vote, a runoff election between the two leading candidates, Gustavo Petro and Rodolfo Hernández Suárez, is scheduled for June 19, 2022.
This is the first time that a left-wing candidate could win the presidency, which has never happened before in the country’s political history. It is, therefore, to be expected that there will be some political unrest after June 19.
Tourists and other visitors are advised to take increased security precautions during the last 2 weeks of June.
May – Armed strike in Colombia
On Thursday, May 5, the Clan del Golfo, also known as the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, called a “4-day armed strike.”
The pamphlet stated that it was forbidden to “open a business of any kind” and to “use any means of transportation.”
The statement ended with the threat of “unfavorable consequences” for those who do not comply with these measures.
“Armed strikes” in Colombia are defined as actions by illegal armed groups, such as guerrillas, paramilitaries or drug traffickers, in which they block roads, restrict mobility, threaten commercial establishments and force the suspension of classes at colleges and universities.
The armed strike has ended for now, but authorities are asking the public to exercise increased precautions when traveling to non-tourist cities in the coming weeks.
April 9 – Latest travel advice from the U.S. State Department
The U.S. State Department has issued a travel warning against Colombia “due to crime, terrorism, Covid-19, civil unrest and kidnapping,” which is true, if you are visiting far away places or flung urban ghettos that seem to attract some tourists for the wrong reasons.
The notice also warns against traveling to the departments (states) of Norte de Santander and Cauca (we locals agree!), with the exception of Popayán (Cauca), also known as the “White City” (yes, in the same sense as the Lord of the Rings).
Again, if you are in a city, in a town near a city, or on the Colombian Atlantic coast, there is no reason why anything bad should happen to you.
December 26 – First cases of Omicron detected in Colombia
On Monday, December 20, the first cases of the newly discovered Omicron variant were confirmed in Colombia. They were identified in a U.S. citizen and two Colombians visiting Cartagena and Santa Marta.
It was confirmed that the cases came from abroad – two from the U.S. and one from Spain. At the moment, there is no evidence of community circulation.
Even though the transmission rate remains relatively low in Colombia, the country’s Minister of Health Fernando Ruíz called out to its citizens to take extra safety precautions. He also recommended booster shots for everyone over the age of 18.
November 19 – Colombia now requires vaccination certificates to enter bars, restaurants, or venues
On Tuesday, November 16, Colombia began to require COVID-19 vaccination certificates to enter bars, restaurants, and other public venues, including cinemas, theaters, or sports stadiums.
The new measures apply to those 18 and over. Starting November 30, it will also affect children over 12 years of age.
The decision came along with the government’s aim to immunize all citizens against the virus. So far, only around 45% of Colombians and 6.4% of minors have been vaccinated fully.
Source: Republic World
October 11 – COVID-19 cases dropping in Colombia
Colombia suffered a spike in COVID-19 infections in mid-June when over 30,000 new cases were reported daily. However, since June 28, the number of infections has been dropping.
Yesterday, October 10, the country reported 1,587 new coronavirus cases, which is around 100 less than on the same day a month ago. Also, the number of deaths caused by the virus seems to be constantly decreasing. Yesterday, Colombia reported 38 COVID-19 fatalities, while a month ago, it was about 10 more.
September 7 – Colombia reports the lowest COVID-19 death toll since June 2020
Colombia reported the lowest number of COVID-related deaths since June 2020, announced Fernando Ruiz, Colombian Minister of Health, on Sunday, September 5.
On that day, 48 patients died of COVID-19, while another 1,669 people tested positive for the virus. The country had not reported fewer than 50 fatalities attributed to coronavirus since June 13, 2020.
On the other hand, Colombia is concerned about the new, more contagious COVID-19 strains. And not only the Delta variant, which has been responsible for the current surges in cases in the U.S. and Europe. But also the Mu variant, which has recently been declared as ‘of interest’ by the WHO.
Source: Colombia Reports
August 22 – Colombia approved a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine on August 21
Colombia approved a third booster dose of the coronavirus vaccine, confirmed the Ministry of Health Fernando Ruiz at a press conference on Friday.
Ruiz clarified that the third dose will be offered to residents with underlying conditions that “generate or lead to immunosuppression, such as heart, kidney, pancreas, lung, intestine, liver and bone marrow transplantation after the first two years.”
The official also mentioned that the government weighs the possibility of offering this benefit to the healthy elderly too. But it has not been confirmed yet.
Source in Spanish: Europa Press