Safety Precautions and Service Hours during Holy Week 2015

This message advises U.S. citizens of special conditions during the Holy Week (Semana Santa) holiday this week.  Semana Santa is a religious holiday during which thousands of people leave Managua to visit beaches and other tourist sites across Nicaragua.  During Semana Santa, the Nicaraguan National Police traditionally operate checkpoints on all major roads and intersections.  Traffic can be heavy on principal highways, especially on Wednesday through Sunday (April 01 – April 05).

U.S. citizens are urged to obey all traffic laws and stay within posted speed limits.  Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal and a prosecutable offense.  Defensive driving is also highly recommended.  Travel only during daylight hours.  Roads outside Managua are always dangerous at night because of pedestrian traffic hazards and the presence of negligent or drunk drivers.

Strong currents off sections of Nicaragua’s Pacific coast have resulted in a number of drownings. Powerful waves have also caused broken bones, and sting ray injuries are not uncommon at popular beaches. Warning signs are not posted, and lifeguards and rescue equipment are not readily available. U.S. citizens visiting Nicaragua’s beaches should exercise appropriate caution.

Remember to use common sense in protecting your property and person.  This is the high season for petty thefts and other types of crimes.  U.S. citizens should exercise caution when visiting the beaches of Maderas, Marsella, Yankee, Coco and Remanso as armed robberies have been reported in these locations.  Group travel is recommended between these beach destinations. Keep your eyes open and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Sexual assaults, armed robberies and theft continue to be a problem, especially in the areas of San Juan del Sur and the Corn Islands. U.S. Citizens have been victims of sexual assaults on other beaches in Nicaragua. The Embassy recommends travelling in groups when going to the beach or to isolated areas. Single travelers should exercise special caution while traveling on the Atlantic Coast and other remote areas of the country.

Due to an increase in crimes committed against foreigners driving rented or private vehicles, the Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens exercise extreme caution when renting or driving vehicles in Nicaragua.  The Embassy has encountered a significant increase in reports of U.S. citizens in rental cars having their belongings stolen from their vehicles while pulled over to change a flat tire.  U.S. citizens report that apparent “Good Samaritans” will pull over to assist them to change the tire, and while distracted, another party will enter the vehicle and steal valuable items.  The Embassy encourages U.S. citizens to travel in groups when possible, keep belongings out of sight and locked away while driving, and be extremely cautious of any offers to provide assistance.

Starting Saturday, March 28 and until Sunday, April 5 at midnight, carrying a firearm is prohibited, even if it is a registered firearm with proper permits. Only Nicaraguan authorities are allowed to carry firearms on these dates.

The Ministry of Health announced that for Holy Week they have made available two toll free lines 1800-1919 and 1800-3131, for anyone that requires immediate medical attention. You can also contact the National Police in English at number 101 (The number 101 can only be dialed from CLARO cellular phone. It cannot be dialed from a landline or MOVISTAR phones).  The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Nicaragua is 118 in Spanish.

The U.S. Embassy will be closed to the public for routine services on the afternoon of April 01, 2015 and also be closed April 02-03. In case of an emergency contact the after-hours duty officer by phone, 2252-7171.

 

The U.S. Embassy in Managua is located at Km 5 ½ C. Sur Managua, Nicaragua.  The U.S. Embassy in Managua can be reached 24/7 at 011-505-2252-7100.  For emergencies (deaths, arrests, etc.) after hours, U.S. citizens can call this phone number and ask for the Embassy Duty Officer.  The ACS unit is also available by email at ACS.Managua@state.gov

General information regarding consular services is available by calling 011-505-2252-7104.  Routine services such as passports and notarial services require an appointment; you can schedule an appointment on-line https://evisaforms.state.gov/acs/default.asp?postcode=MNG&appcode=1. In case of an emergency please call 2252-7100.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the U.S. Embassy’s website and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information can be found.  The U.S. Embassy also encourages U.S. citizens to review to “A Safe Trip Abroad“, which includes valuable security information for those both living and traveling abroad.  In addition to information on the Internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada, or outside the U.S. and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.