US embassy in Haiti put out cautionary recommendations to American citizens who will participate in Haiti's upcoming National Carnival
Posted by US Embassy in Port-au-Prince on Tuesday, February 10, 2015 Under: Security
The US Embassy in Port-au-Prince would like to remind US citizens in Haiti as the official carnival celebrations, will be held this year in Port-au-Prince on 15-16 and 17 February. While these are the official dates, traditionally the festivities begin before that date. You can expect all the disadvantages at the carnival (trafficking gangs "RaRa" random in the streets, road closures, crowd, etc.) will increase with the approach of the official dates. The Embassy urges all US citizens to be vigilant. Remember that disturbance and crowds at Port-au-Prince may occur and escalate quickly, so use caution when observing or participating in the celebrations of carnival. If you are from or near a celebration overflowing, go out of the area without delay.
Rara bands will be in the streets with increasing frequency leading to Carnival. Group members can get together en masse around vehicles, block, tap on the windows, giving whip strokes, swirling with knives and machetes, and make lots of noise. This can be a potentially destabilizing situation, but in general, the bands remain nonviolent. While driving, if you get surprised by a Rara band: keep windows closed and doors locked and put the car in park mode until the tape passes. Do not try to drive through the crowd. After Carnival, Rara bands can be found in different parts of the city and the countryside, every Sunday until Easter.
Participation in Carnival:
The annual Carnival celebration this year should translate into tens of thousands of revelers and spectators in the celebrations of the city. Characterized by large crowds (often drunk), Carnival can be a fun but potentially dangerous place for revelers. Muscular robberies, assaults and pickpockets are still the most likely threats against those who are victims of crime at Carnival.
Enjoy private booths or "controlled access" or points of view from private property as a way to see the parades and Carnival festivities, if possible;
Avoid walking through or stopping in, large crowds of people gather in close proximity or along roads, in processions of Carnival. Try to stay on the outskirts of the activity, these areas are considered generally safer;
Do not get carried away in a Rara band. These spontaneous celebrations tend to be particularly strong and are opportunities for criminals to take advantage of the participant or the casual observer;
Travelling in a group with friends and stay in your groups for the duration of the event. Never let someone in your group alone in a big crowd with plans to "meet" later;
Keep a charged mobile phone with you at all times; if you are in the evening, take a flashlight;
Avoid wearing expensive jewelry or lights;
Keep money and wallets in a front pocket. Avoid carrying handbags or other bags and do not place your bags on the floor or hang loosely over your shoulder;
Stay on the main roads at all times, even if it is not the most convenient way. Do not take shortcuts when you walk to the event. Most crimes against people at events like this one, occur before or after the event, when people wander the dark streets side to return to their vehicles;
Avoid confrontation of any kind and move away quickly from any act of violence or behavior that could trap you or threaten to hurt you. Know your best evacuation route and be ready to go in that direction;
Have a plan ready in case you are separated from your group, have a predetermined assembly point, with a fixed time to meet you at the end of the night;
Road travel to and from other cities and other hazards, such as drunk or reckless drivers, increased traffic and increased potential for deadlocks,
In : Security