Limited Travel and National Elections December 6th in Bolivia

by US Embassy
(La Paz, Bolivia)

WARDEN MESSAGE U.S. EMBASSY LA PAZ, BOLIVIA December 2, 2009


This Warden Message is to inform U.S. citizens traveling to and residing in Bolivia that on Sunday, December 6 Bolivia will be holding nationwide general elections. The elections will affect business operations and activities throughout the country. Please review the following and make the necessary arrangements to minimize any inconvenience.

From 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, December 5, until noon Monday, December 7, the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages will be suspended. Carrying firearms during that period is illegal. Additionally, between 12:01 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, December 6, no private vehicles or public transportation will be allowed on the streets without prior authorization from the National Electoral Court.

No domestic flights are scheduled for Sunday, December 6, but international flights will continue to operate as scheduled. Please note that transportation services from the airport to the different cities in Bolivia will be limited to hotel shuttles. Travelers should arrange their plans to avoid travel to, from or within Bolivia on December 6, if possible.

U.S. citizens should be aware that the political party MAS will stage two large rallies in the cities of Santa Cruz and La Paz prior to the election. On Wednesday, December 2, 2009, a rally is planned in Santa Cruz during the afternoon hours. A second rally on Thursday, December 3 is scheduled to take place in El Alto outside of La Paz at 3:00 p.m. Access to the La Paz airport may be obstructed by this rally. U.S. citizens are advised to avoid these areas if possible.

U.S. citizens are reminded that demonstrations and road blockades are not unusual in Bolivia, and even though they might be intended to be peaceful they can turn confrontational between security forces, demonstrators, and bystanders, and escalate into violence. U.S. citizens are urged to avoid the areas of demonstrations and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any protests. If you find yourself in the vicinity of a large gathering, it is recommended you leave the area immediately for your own safety. U.S. citizens should stay current with media coverage of local events. Please note that the police have limited capabilities outside major cities and communication is poor.

The police will be on a heightened alert for potential civil unrest, and as a result, there will be minimal municipal patrols. Criminals can be expected to take advantage of large crowds and use ruse or diversionary tactics to prey on potential street victims. Pick-pocketing, purse snatching, and car thefts are the most common street crimes during such periods. Everyone is advised to limit their cash on hand, unnecessary credit cards, jewelry, and other portable valuables.

U.S. citizens may wish to access tips on emergency preparedness through the Department of Homeland Security's website at http://www.dhs.gov/xcitizens/editorial_0711.shtm.

Americans residing or traveling in Bolivia are encouraged to register and update their contact information at the U.S. Embassy in La Paz and/ or the U.S. consular agencies in Cochabamba and Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Registration may be done online and can be done in advance of travel.

Information on registering may be found at the Department of State's Consular Affairs website: https://travelregistration.state.gov.

U.S. citizens should consult the Country Specific Information for Bolivia and the latest Travel Alerts and Warnings and Worldwide Caution at the Department's website at http://travel.state.gov.

Updated information on travel and security in Bolivia may also be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 within the United States or by calling 1-202-501-4444 outside the United States. During regular work hours, the American Citizens Services unit at the Embassy in La Paz may be reached at 591-2-216-8297. The consular agencies may be reached in Santa Cruz at 591-3-351-3477 and in Cochabamba at 591-4-411-6313.

We hope this information is useful to you. If we may provide further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely,

American Citizens Services Unit
U.S. Embassy La Paz, Bolivia

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