Tourists Headed To The US Are Being Warned To Watch Out For Random Shootings
Uruguay cautioned travelers to the US to avoid "theme parks, shopping centers, artistic festivals, religious activities, gastronomic fairs and any kind of cultural or sporting events."
After last weekend's twin mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Uruguay is the latest country to warn its citizens about traveling to the United States in light of the "growing indiscriminate violence" taking place.
Uruguay's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued the notice on Monday, warning of the wide range of venues where shootings have occurred and that many were linked to "hate crimes, including racism and discrimination, which cost the lives of more than 250 people in the first seven months of this year."
While there have not been 250 people killed directly due to hate crimes in the US in 2019, there have been an estimated 255 mass shootings this year alone, according to a Vox analysis.
The US has the 28th highest rate of gun-related deaths in the world, according to the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The number of people who die in the US every year from guns is in turn 25 times higher than in any other populous high-income country, per 2010 data from the World Health Organization.
"Given the inability of the authorities to prevent these situations, due to among other factors the indiscriminate possession of firearms by the population, it is especially advisable to avoid places where large concentrations of people occur, such as theme parks, shopping centers, artistic festivals, religious activities, gastronomic fairs and any kind of cultural or sporting events. In particular, it is recommended not to go with minors to these places," the Uruguayan statement reads.
The statement appears to be lacking any sort of deeper political jab at the US, though the US did issue its own travel warning for Uruguay several days earlier. Uruguay's ruling coalition, the Frente Amplio, can be described as center left; Uruguay has been one of the few countries in the region that has remained allies with nearby Venezuela, putting it at odds with the Trump administration. But there's been little to none of the international drama seen between the US and other Latin American countries since President Donald Trump took office.
The US State Department did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment on the Uruguayan warning.
Venezuela itself appeared to follow suit on Monday afternoon, in a volley that feels a bit more fitting given the ongoing tensions between Washington and Caracas. A statement from the foreign minister warned Venezuelan travelers to be wary of violence, which "lies in the inexcusable indiscriminate possession of firearms by the population." The foreign ministry also said it was "especially advisable to avoid places where large crowds occur. In particular, it is recommended not to attend these places with minors."
And while the Japanese foreign ministry's travel advisory page still lists the United States as safe to visit, the country's consulate in Detroit had a wary reminder for its citizens. "Japanese residents should be aware of the potential for gunfire incidents everywhere in the United States, a gun society, and continue to pay close attention to safety measures," reads the consulate's statement seeking information about citizens who may have been had been caught in the Dayton shooting.
Monday's statements are among several that foreign governments have issued over the years, all precautioning their citizens about the gun violence present in the US.
Most recently, China's Ministry of Tourism issued a statement warning that "shootings, robberies and thefts have occurred frequently in the United States. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism reminds Chinese tourists to fully assess the risk of travel to the United States, keep abreast of information on public security, laws and regulations, and improve their awareness of safety and security." Many analysts linked it — and an accompanying warning from the Ministry of Education stating that US law enforcement has harassed Chinese students — to the ongoing trade war between the countries.
But countries that aren't in the middle of trade disputes with Washington have also made clear that gun violence is just what's to be expected when traveling to the US. The German ministry of foreign affairs reminds visitors to the US that "it is easy to gain possession of weapons, so that it is more common for firearms use and sporadically mass shootings occur." One German citizen died in the El Paso shooting, officials said Monday.
Canada meanwhile softens their guidance by noting that while "incidents of mass shooting occur," they only "account for a small percentage of homicide deaths in the country." Belgium likewise says that the US "presents no particular risk to the traveler" but "as the use of firearms is largely liberalized, crimes are often violent." France merely notes that "in many states, possession of firearms is permitted and common. Visitors must, in all circumstances, keep calm and cool."
New Zealand puts it perhaps the most bluntly of all, simply advising that "active shooter incidents occur from time to time in the United States."