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Robert Curley

Haitians Unhappy with Latest U.S. Warning

By January 12, 2013

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Haiti flagFor all you may have heard about the possibilities of a post-earthquake revival of tourism to Haiti, the U.S. State Department has pretty consistently -- and strongly --warned Americans away from visiting Haiti. The latest Travel Warning for Haiti, issued in late December, is no exception, pointing out that Haiti still has major problems with disease and crime, the latter including kidnapping and murder of international visitors.

In the past, such warnings were met with a sort of resigned silence from inside Haiti, so perhaps it is a sign of progress, after all, that the latest missive from the State Department has generated significant blowback from Haitian government leaders, including Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, who recently asserted: "Haiti is one of the safest destinations, not only in the Caribbean, but in all of Latin America."

It all depends upon how one defines safe, of course, but Haiti does have a lower murder rate than the neighboring Dominican Republic, where droves of American tourists flock each winter.

Like the Dominican Republic, Haiti is a big country. It's also quite poor, with inadequate medical and security infrastructure. The same can be said of many places in the Caribbean, though. Port au Prince can unquestionably be a dangerous place -- and the capital gets most of the international media attention -- but there are many far-flung locations in Haiti that savvy travelers can now visit in relative safety. As Haiti invests more in tourism, we expect that positive trend to continue.

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