The United States Embassy in Peru cautions American citizens to avoid Cuzco, during the month of February, due to an apparent threat by a criminal organization to kidnap US citizens. US Embassy personnel are restricted from travel to the Imperial city during this time.
Peruvian officials have reacted with consternation. José Luís Silva Martinot, the Minister of External Commerce and Tourism called for calm and expressed regret that the US Embassy had made this warning. Minister Silva insisted that Peru is working to promote tourism in Peru and this signifies working hard to keep tourists safe.
Minister Silva says the government of Peru has no independent information from its sources about threats to US citizens.
Some two hundred additional policemen are said to be on route to Cuzco from Lima with additional police forces arriving from the neighboring Region of Puno in order to protect the safety of tourists in the streets, bars, discotheques, and tourist sites of Cuzco.
Tourism is the major industry of Cuzco and one of the most important industries in Peru.
The threat is being taken very seriously.
Kidnapping for profit has become relatively common in parts of Latin America. It has even made its way into the United States according to reports on Narco violence in the US. Criminal organizations are increasingly international and form a threat that concerns governments and civilians.
With its massive flow of tourists from around the world, but especially from the United States, Cuzco forms a tempting target. Local and national authorities promise to work hard to keep this threat from becoming more than a threat.
Tourists and US residents in Peru are advised to check the US State Department website http://travel.state.gov and to enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Program https://step.state.gov/step to obtain up to date information on this situation. In addition, the State Department provides information on Twitter and Facebook. https://mobile.twitter.com/travelgov , https://www.facebook.com/travelgov . Phone numbers are also available for those who wish to call, toll free from US or Canada 888-407-4747 and from elsewhere 1-202-501-4444, from 8am-8pm, Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.