Categorized | National News

US Advisory Stronger

After the US Embassy issued a strong travel advisory to its citizens living and visiting The Bahamas yesterday, Minister for Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell said the US’ statement just happened to be coincidental and is not a direct response to The Bahamas’ statement issued on Friday.

In an interview with the Journal, Mr. Mitchell said that the government was aware that the statement would be issued.

“There is a protocol that we have established in regard to these things. Generally, we don’t ask people’s permission but because people are your allies you tend not to take them by surprise.

“Just as we through the protocol said we were about do this, they said they were about to do a similar thing and it happened simultaneously. They had some permission they had to obtain and the timing is just what it is.

“I’m not a conspiracy theorist and I don’t think that there is a connection between the two and it just happened coincidentally,” Mr. Mitchell said.

Mr. Mitchell added that he did not see anything wrong with the advisory as it is similar to warnings issued previously by the Royal Bahamas Police Force after a string of armed robberies in the capital.

“This particular advisory is similar to advice given by the Bahamian police to Bahamians about using ATMs.

“I’m not sure what the harm is in that, what I do say is that every country has the legal obligation to protect its citizens, so I’m not sure what the issue is precisely.

“People are trying to make a conspiracy out of nothing. The Bahamas does what it does, the US does what it does,” Mr. Mitchell said.

Mr. Mitchell’s remarks are in response to an exhaustive list of precautions issued to Americans travelling to the Bahamas by the US Embassy.

The US government advised persons visiting The Bahamas to be extremely cautious especially with the recent spike in criminal activity in the past calendar year.

“Over the course of the past six months, the U.S. Embassy has received reports of a significant increase in armed robberies throughout New Providence, specifically targeting patrons of ATM machines, parking venues at various retail locations, and armed car-jackings,” officials said.

“Avoid using ATM machines located in isolated areas and consider using ATM machines located in shopping centers that have security coverage.  Use the buddy system when using ATM machines. Do not display or wear expensive jewelry that make you a target for criminals. Avoid wearing gold necklaces, bracelets, expensive watches or other flashy jewelry. In traffic or in stopped line of cars leave at least a car length between your vehicle and the car in front of you to provide an escape path. This also prevents a chain reaction accident in the event that you get hit from behind and pushed into the car in front of you. If you believe you are being followed, drive immediately to a safe location such as a police station, a gas station or hotel and call the police. Keep your cell phone charged and with you at all times and use a GPS system if you are traveling in unfamiliar areas.”

The advisory also goes on to recommend American citizens that plan to visit The Bahamas, signup for the state’s safety enrollment program that makes it easier for officials to reach you if something goes awry.

“We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in The Bahamas enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).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,” Embassy officials said.

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

The initial advisory that was issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which advised Bahamians to comply with American police and to “be sensible” when traveling to the US, got coverage from numerous American media outlets over the weekend.

The government issued the warning after two African Americans were shot by police in separate incidents in Minnesota and Louisiana.

Many pundits weighed in saying that The Bahamas’ advisory was a political ploy by the government in response to several travel advisories issued by the US government over the past several years.



Written by Jones Bahamas

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