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Unrest in Panama

Unrest in Panama

The State Department alerts U.S. citizens of the risks of travel along the Pan-American Highway in western Panama and of the border crossing at Paso Canoas, Costa Rica at this time. This Travel Alert expires on February 20, 2012.

Disputes over mining rights in western Panama have led to violent confrontations between indigenous groups and Panamanian security forces.  These confrontations have resulted in continued disruptions and demonstrations along the Pan-American Highway near the San Felix area in Chiriqui (Ngobe Bugle region) and elsewhere in Panama.  There are reports of violent confrontations between the Panamanian police and protestors in the San Juan, San Felix, Horconcitos, and Vigui areas.  These confrontations have also resulted in unannounced closings of the border crossing at Paso Canoas, Costa Rica. There are further reports of demonstrations in the areas of David and Changuinola in Panama beginning on Monday, February 6, 2012.

The U.S. Embassy urges American citizens to avoid travel along the Pan-American Highway in western Panama and the border cross at Paso Canoas, Costa Rica at this time.  While the Pan-American Highway is reported to be open, protesters continue in their attempts to block it with rocks, trees, and burning tires at various points between Chiriqui and San Felix, Panama.  Protesters have been reportedly throwing rocks at passing vehicles.  Panamanian Security Services continue to use tear gas and other riot control measures.  American citizens are urged to avoid areas of demonstrations, to defer traveling to and within areas known to have current protest activity, and to exercise caution in any area of confrontation between police and protestors.

Other protests on this or other issues may occur with little or no warning.  The Embassy continues to caution its employees and all U.S. citizens to exercise heightened security awareness and avoid crowds and any areas where there are demonstrations or where confrontations could occur.

For up-to-date information on security, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site at    Further information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Information on services for American citizens visiting or living in Costa Rica can be found on the U.S. Embassy, Costa Rica website at   

U.S. citizens who travel to or reside in Costa Rica are encouraged to enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  By enrolling, you make it easier for the U.S. Embassy to contact you in case of an emergency.