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Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens: El Salvador Warns of Critical Crime

Western Hemisphere > El Salvador > San Salvador

This message is to remind U.S. citizens residing and traveling in El Salvador of the critical crime threat in El Salvador.  Most travelers to El Salvador experience no safety or security problems, but as noted in our August 9, 2013, Travel Warning for El Salvador, both random and organized violent crime is endemic throughout El Salvador. U.S. citizens are not normally singled out based on their nationality, but are subject to the same threats as all other persons in El Salvador. 

Over the last several weeks, several joggers and pedestrians were robbed at gunpoint in the immediate area around U.S. Embassy San Salvador.  Blogs associated with local running and cycling groups have also reported on runners being targeted in the Santa Elena area as well as other affluent areas, such as Escalon and San Benito.  Due to these issues, U.S. Embassy security officials advise all U.S. Government personnel not to walk, run or cycle in the unguarded streets and parksof El Salvador, even in groups, and recommend exercising only in gyms and fitness centers. 

Stay aware of your surroundings at all times when in public, and avoid carrying any valuables at all, including watches or smart phones/tablets, as these items are often targeted by thieves.  Be especially vigilant when entering or exiting your home or hotel, car, garage, school, and workplace.  Whenever possible, travel in groups of two or more persons.  Walking in many areas of El Salvador can expose you to crime, especially at night, and visitors and residents should not walk alone on or near beaches, historic ruins, or trails.  

Incidents of crime along roads, including carjacking, are common in El Salvador.  Avoid driving at night and always drive with your doors locked to deter potential robberies at traffic lights and on congested urban streets. Travel on public transportation, especially buses, both within and outside the capital is risky and best avoided.  The Embassy advises official visitors and personnel to avoid using mini-buses and regular buses and to use only radio-dispatched taxis or those stationed in front of major hotels.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in El Salvador enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at www.Travel.State.Gov.  STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. 

Regularly monitor the State Department's website, where you can find current Travel Warnings, including the Travel Warning for El Salvador, Travel Alerts and the Worldwide Caution.  Read the Country Specific Information for El Salvador.  For additional information, refer to the “Traveler’s Checklist” on the State Department’s website.

Contact the U.S. embassy for up-to-date information on travel restrictions.  You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and download our free Smart Traveler iPhone App to have travel information at your fingertips.

The U.S. Embassy in San Salvador is located on Final Boulevard Santa Elena Sur, Urbanización Santa Elena, Antiguo Cuscatlán, La Libertad, and can be reached by telephone at 503-2501-2999 or by fax at 503-2278-5522.  For after-hours emergencies, please call 503-2501-2253. The Embassy's American Citizen Services (ACS) Unit can be reached directly by fax at 503-2501-6020 or by email at ACSSanSal@state.gov.

If you would like to be removed from this email distribution list, please send an email with your request to ACSSanSal@state.gov.