Security Alert: U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Location: Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Events: This year, the annual Carnival celebration begins on Sunday, February 14 and concludes on Wednesday, February 17.  During Carnival, it is customary for crowds of varying size and accompanying Ra-Ra bands to hold spontaneous celebrations throughout the country.  Ra-Ra bands will be out in the streets with increased frequency in the days prior to and during Carnival itself.  Band members and onlookers may crowd around vehicles, block them in, bang on windows, crack bull whips, display knives and machetes, and make other overtly aggressive actions.  It can be a potentially unsettling situation, but generally speaking, crowds remain non-violent.

The current security environment and ongoing political unrest, however, makes this year’s Carnival season more unpredictable than in years past.  Thus, aside from typical Carnival-related inconveniences such as increased traffic and road closures due to crowds and Ra-Ra bands in the streets, the possibility of violence cannot be discounted.

If you should get caught in a Ra-Ra band crowd while driving, or if you are unsure of the nature of the crowd, please do the following:

  • Keep all windows up and all doors locked.
  • Attempt to turn around if possible and find an alternate route.
  • If turning around is not a viable option, place the car in park until the band passes.  Under no circumstances should you attempt to forcibly drive through the crowd.

Actions to take:

  • Avoid the area;
  • Avoid demonstrations and any large gatherings of people;
  • Do not attempt to drive through roadblocks; and
  • If you encounter a roadblock, turn around and get to a safe area.