A United States travel advisory highlighting several of this country’s crime hotspots and which has caused quite a stir on social media, has been dismissed by Attorney General Dale Marshall, as much ado about nothing.
The AG explained that the US issues travel advisories for each country as a matter of course, and in fact Barbados still enjoys the USA’s lowest risk assessment. The advisory went viral on social media, but this morning the AG sought to assure Barbadians that the country’s stellar safety record was not in jeopardy.
“I have seen the document that has been circulating on social media. The United States issues advisories on every single country in the world and while the term travel advisory connotes some dire warning, it is nothing more than exactly that, a travel advisory. The lowest level of risk is represented by level one and the highest risk is represented by level four, Barbados is in the category of level one. So, we are in the same category as countries like Bermuda, while Jamaica and Trinidad are level two, but more importantly this travel advisory is merely advocating caution.
The March 5, 2019 advisory issued on the US Bureau of Consular affairs website urged its citizens not to visit Crab Hill, Ivy, Nelson Street, Wellington Street or Maxwell Coast Road. A local entertainment establishment was also listed on the areas that should be avoided. The notice went onto advise “increased caution” for the St Michael areas of Black Rock, Deacons, Carrington Village, Greenfields, New Orleans and the Pine. Barbados TODAY contacted the US Embassy in Wildey to clarify the rationale for the advisory and the singling out of the above-mentioned areas. Embassy officials promised to respond to queries by tomorrow.
However, Marshall contended that the sentiments of the advisory are no different from the cautionary note that he would issue to all Barbadians.
“We are becoming alarmed somewhat unnecessarily in this matter. The US issues a travel advisory for every single country in the world. In any country there are going to be places where people would recommend that you do not go. The advisory says to exercise normal precautions in Barbados. It does not say not to go to Barbados nor advise extraordinary precautions. I will also advise Barbadians and residents to exercise normal precautions in Barbados,” he explained, suggesting that he was aware of the issues in the areas mentioned.
The AG made it clear that Government’s plans to arrest crime, especially gun violence which accounted for nine of the 14 murders for the year so far, will continue to be rolled out. However, he was adamant that the advisory was not about to escalate the level of urgency.
Marshall stressed, “As the Attorney General of Barbados, I will tell you that when someone gets shot and killed it causes me to step up action. The same goes for if somebody is injured or robbed or when firearms come into Barbados. But action is not increased as a result of an advisory from a foreign state.”
Within the first month of the year, Barbados had recorded a higher murder rate than that of Trinidad and Tobago. There were eight murders in January which placed the murder rate at 2.8 per 100 thousand, while Trinidad, which has recorded 32 murders for the same period, had a rate of 2.3 per 100 thousand.