COUNTRY DESCRIPTION ^
Argentina is a medium-income nation, which has suffered significant economic and political difficulties in the past three years. Buenos Aires and other large cities have well-developed tourist facilities and services including many four and five star hotels. The quality of tourist facilities in smaller towns outside the capital varies, and may not be up to similar standards.
SECURITY AND SAFETY ^
There is no evidence of terrorist organizations or violent groups in Argentina that specifically target U.S. visitors. Individuals and organizations with ties to extremist groups operate in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, and along the tri-border area between Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. Americans crossing into Paraguay or Brazil in that area may wish to consult the most recent Consular Information Sheets for those countries.
Demonstrations occur daily in metro Buenos Aires and frequently in other major cities. Protesters often block streets, highways, and major intersections causing traffic jams and delaying travel. While demonstrations are usually nonviolent, hooligans in some of the groups sometimes seek confrontation with the police and vandalize private property. These groups occasionally protest in front of the U.S. Embassy and U.S.-affiliated businesses. U.S. citizens should take common-sense precautions and avoid gatherings or any other event where crowds have congregated to protest. Information about the location of possible demonstrations is available from a variety of sources, including the local media. Additional information and advice may be obtained from the U.S. Embassy at the telephone numbers or email address listed at the end of this document.
Public transportation is generally reliable and safe. The preferred option for travel within Buenos Aires and other major cities is by radio taxi or "remise" (private car with driver). The best way to obtain taxis and remises is to call for one or go to an established stand, before hailing one on the street. Hotels, restaurants and other businesses can order remises or radio taxis, or private phone numbers for such services upon request. Passengers on buses, trains, and the subway should be alert for pickpockets and should also be aware that these forms of transport are sometimes affected by strikes or work stoppages.
Street crime in the larger cities, especially greater Buenos Aires, is a serious problem for residents and visitors alike. Visitors to Buenos Aires and popular tourist destinations should be alert to muggers, pickpockets, and purse-snatchers on the street and at bus and train stations. Criminals usually work in groups, are usually armed, and employ a variety of ruses to victimize the unsuspecting visitor. A common scam is to spray mustard or a similar substance on the tourist from a distance. A pickpocket will then approach the tourist offering to help clean the stain, and while doing so, rob the victim. While few visitors are injured, a large percentage of victims are threatened with weapons. Criminals do not hesitate to use force when they encounter resistance. Visitors are advised to immediately hand over all cash and valuables if confronted. Several American visitors and residents have been robbed of their watches and jewelry while walking on the street. Wearing expensive watches or jewelry increases your chances of being robbed.
Along with an increase in conventional mugging, "express� kidnapping continues to be a serious problem, especially in less well-off areas. Victims are grabbed off the street based on their appearance and vulnerability, the family or co-workers are then contacted and told to deliver the cash that they have on hand or can gather in a couple of hours. Once the ransom is paid, the victim is usually quickly released unharmed. There have been some foreign victims and visitors are particularly advised not to let children and adolescents travel alone.
Your passport is a valuable document and should be well guarded. Whenever possible, lock your passport and other valuables in a hotel safe, and carry a photocopy of your passport for identification purposes.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES ^
While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Argentina 's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Argentina are strict, and convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences and fines.
Under the PROTECT Act of April 2003, it is a crime, prosecutable in the United States, for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18, whether or not the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident alien intended to engage in such illicit sexual conduct prior to going abroad. For purposes of the PROTECT Act, illicit sexual conduct includes any commercial sex act in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18. The law defines a commercial sex act as any sex act, on account of which anything of value is given to or received by a person under the age of 18.
MEDICAL FACILITIES ^
Medical care in private hospitals in Buenos Aires is generally good, but varies in quality outside the capital. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars or more. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS ^
While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Argentina is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:
Safety of Public Transportation: Fair
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good/Fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair/Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Good
Driving throughout Argentina is more dangerous than driving in the United States. Drivers in Argentina are very aggressive, especially in the capital city of Buenos Aires, and frequently ignore traffic regulations. U.S. driver's licenses are valid in the capital and the province of Buenos Aires, but Argentine or international licenses are required to drive in the rest of the country. For further information, please contact the Argentine Automobile Club, Av. Libertador 1850, 1112 Capital Federal, telephone (011)(54)11-4802-6061, or contact the Embassy of Argentina as listed in the above section on Entry Requirements.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT ^
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Argentina's civil aviation authority as Category 2 �- not in compliance with international aviation safety standards for the oversight of Argentina 's air carrier operations. While consultations to correct the deficiencies are ongoing, Argentine air carriers currently flying to the U.S. are subject to heightened FAA surveillance. No additional flights or new service to the U.S. by Argentina 's air carriers will be permitted unless they arrange to have the flights conducted by an air carrier from a country meeting international safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA�s Internet website at
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. In addition, DOD does not permit its personnel to use air carriers from Category 2 countries for official business except for flights originating from or terminating in the United States. Local exceptions may apply. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.
Please also refer to the separate
Worldwide Caution Public Announcement.
June 30, 2004