Haitian officials say US travel advisory unwarranted

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – A recent advisory by the Obama administration warning that Americans were victims of murder and kidnappings in Haiti could unfairly hurt efforts to get the earthquake-crippled nation back on its feet, Haiti’s government officials said yesterday.

“Haiti is one of the safest destinations, not only in the Caribbean, but in all of Latin America,” Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said in a press conference, flanked by several other cabinet members.

The State Department advisory issued on December 28 said: “US citizens have been victims of violent crime, including murder and kidnapping, predominantly in the Port-au-Prince area. No one is safe from kidnapping, regardless of occupation, nationality, race, gender or age.”

This stern warning came at a time when violent crime for the year, especially murder and kidnapping, had in fact begun to decline, Haitian officials said.

The most violent month in Haiti last year was July, when 136 murders were reported by the Haitian National Police. That number sharply declined in the following months. The highest number of kidnappings for 2012 came in October, with 21 reported cases, but it fell to only 9 cases in December.
The US State Department travel advisory undermined Haiti’s attempts to rebuild its tourism industry and lure foreign investment in the wake of the January 2010 earthquake that decimated the capital city, Lamothe complained.

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