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Venezuela, Uruguay issue travel warnings for U.S.; Albuquerque named for violence

MapOuch! Now this hurts.

Venezuela and Uruguay, two countries for which the U.S. Department of State has issued travel warnings because of violent crime, have now issued warnings to their own citizens about travel to the United States, citing violence and hate crimes.

Uruguay’s warning specifically named Albuquerque, Detroit and Baltimore as among the most violent cities in the United States, attributing that information to a top-20 list compiled by the CEOWORLD Magazine 2019 index.

CEOWORLD describes itself as a business news site geared for “CEOs, CFOs, other senior executives, top business leaders, high-net-worth individuals, and wealth managers worldwide.”

No such top-20 list of most dangerous cities in the U.S. could be found on the CEOWORLD Magazine website, and calls to the organization were not returned. Their website did, however, have a top-10 list of the world’s most dangerous cities. Caracus, Venezuela, was number one. Albuquerque does not appear on that list, nor do any cities in Uruguay.

Albuquerque does, however, appear on other lists: The WorldAtlas.com website posted a list of the 25 most dangerous cities in America. Albuquerque shows up as 23rd on that list, Detroit is second, Baltimore is fifth. USA Today, citing a survey conducted by 24/7 Wall St., a financial news and opinion website, lists Albuquerque as the 11th most violent city out of a survey of 25. Baltimore held the number three spot and Detroit was second.

The Monday travel warnings from the Foreign Ministries of Venezuela and Uruguay come in the wake of the most recent mass shootings in the U.S. — one at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California on July 28, in which four people were killed, including the gunman, and 13 others injured, and two other shootings within 24 hours on Sunday and early Monday — in El Paso, Texas, where 22 people were killed, and in Dayton, Ohio, where 9 were killed, including the suspect. Dozens of people were injured in those two shootings.

“It’s absurd to single out Albuquerque in a travel warning based on senseless acts of violence that are happening across America, driven by racism and discrimination,” said Matt Ross, communications director for Mayor Tim Keller. “This is one of the most diverse cities in the country — a place that celebrates our multicultural roots that have built a culture unlike any other on Earth.”

He noted that the city is a top destination site for more than six million visitors annually, as well as host to high profile events, such as the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and more recently the National Senior Games.

Brenna Moore, a spokeswoman for Visit Albuquerque said “it is misleading to include Albuquerque in this travel advisory, and the methodology used by CEOWORLD Magazine is unclear.”

Further, the positive attributes of Albuquerque are regularly highlighted in other media outlets, including National Geographic Traveler, Sunset and the Travel Channel.

“Tourism is one of the city’s largest economic generators, with an average of 6.2 million visitors each year, who come to enjoy our 310 days of sunshine, outdoor recreation and diverse cultural offerings,” Moore said.

Likewise, New Mexico Tourism Department Secretary Jen Paul Schroer said that “New Mexico and Albuquerque are unquestionably safe places for travel for both residents and visitors.” Record-high visitation in 2018 would not have occurred “if New Mexico were unsafe, or if there were even a perception of such.”

Further, the travel warning “is not consistent with recent crime trends for Albuquerque, where most recent statistics indicate significant reductions in property crime and violent crime,” Schroer said. “In some cases, these trends even date back a few years.”

In April, the U.S. State Department gave Venezuela its highest travel advisory, Level 4, meaning “Do Not Travel.” It cited crime, civil unrest and the arbitrary arrest and detention of U.S. citizens. The State Department gave Uruguay a Level 2 warning, meaning that travelers should exercise increased caution because of violent crimes.

Stories about the Foreign Ministry travel warnings from Venezuela and Uruguay were carried in media outlets across the United States, including CNN, U.S. News & World Report, the Washington Post, Huffington Post, USA Today, Fox News and the National Review.

Venezuela’s travel warning included a not particularly veiled swipe at President Donald Trump: “These increasing acts of violence have found an echo and support in the conversations and actions impregnated by racial discrimination and hatred against migrant populations, pronounced and executed by the supremacist elite who holds political power in Washington,” the statement read in part.

On Monday, Trump, a vocal critic of Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro, increased the administration’s pressure to bring about regime change in Venezuela’s by signing an executive order to freeze Venezuelan assets in America’s jurisdiction and impose sanctions on anyone doing business with Maduro.

The statement from Uruguay’s Foreign Ministry said it issued the travel warning because of the “growing indiscriminatory violence, specifically hate crimes including racism and discrimination” in the United States, as well as the “indiscriminate possession of firearms by the population” and the “impossibility of authorities to prevent these situations.”

In related news, the Japanese Consul in Detroit on Sunday published an alert, warning Japanese nationals to “be aware of the potential for gunfire incidents everywhere in the United States,” which it described as “a gun society.”

A call to the U.S. State Department seeking comment on the travel warnings was not returned.

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