Please Think Before Going

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryRecently, the U.S. Department of State had to issue a travel advisory to NOT go to Russia for any reason. The obvious reason was because U.S. citizens can be kidnapped by the Russian authorities and used a bargaining chips. Witness the cases of both Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner. The same is true for China. But it is not just Russia that is guilty of this; there are a whole lot of countries in this category as well. Fourteen of the worst countries for kidnapping are Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. These countries are classified by the U.S. Department of State as category four (the worst possible level), and no U.S. citizens should go to them for any reason. Even international journalists are not safe to go to these countries.

The name of the game is do not go too far off the beaten path to countries that are not much traveled to for good reasons. It never fails to amaze me how many idiots go to countries where they have more than a good chance of being assaulted, robbed, raped, kidnapped, and just killed for no apparent reason. There are fools who try to find that “far off exotic land” where they will meet wonderful people, see things most people have never seen, and have some truly memorable experiences. Maybe they will. Maybe they will find a country that is truly a paradise, or maybe it is a place filled with landmines (both figuratively and literal). What travelers should do is go to the U.S. Department of State to assess what a country’s problem might be, what categories they might be listed in (again, four being the worst), and heed any serious advisories that might be put out.

I am not by any means saying that anyone should not travel at all, but with most of the world having opened up again after the pandemic, some fellow travelers may want to keep in the back of their minds some places are not worth going to. Also, heed the local laws because they might mean the difference between life and death. One example is the case of recreational drugs. In a growing number of U.S. states.certain recreational drugs are allowed. However, in Southeast Asian countries like Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore the penalty for a certain amount of such illicit drugs is automatically death. They say this on their immigration forms, and they mean it. Not the U.S. government or any other government will be able to save you from the executioner’s block in these three countries. Even if you are wrongfully imprisoned, your government will not be able to rescue you (or it might have an extraordinarily hard time doing so).

Knowing where you are going, paying careful attention to any travel warnings, and maybe if possible talking to people who have been to where you are going might make all the difference in the world. With all of this in mind, I wish anyone going somewhere to have a wonderful, beautiful, safe and memorable time.

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