While President Donald Trump and the Republican Party have spent the past several years claiming foreign migrants and refugees pose a threat to Americans, a pair of massacres in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio over the weekend has compelled two Latin American countries to warn their own citizens of the travel dangers lurking in the United States.
The foreign ministries of Venezuela and Uruguay issued urgent warnings to people in their countries who may travel to the U.S. following the deaths of 31 people in the two mass shootings. Both countries informed their citizens of the "indiscriminate possession" of guns by the U.S. population and the refusal of the federal government to address the problem.
"These increasing acts of violence have found an echo and support in the conversations and actions impregnated by racial discrimination and hatred against migrant populations, pronounced and executed by the supremacist elite who holds political power in Washington."
—Foreign Ministry of VenezuelaTravelers from Uruguay were specifically urged to "take precaution amid the growing indiscriminatory violence, specifically hate crimes including racism and discrimination," following the shooting deaths of 22 people in El Paso on Saturday by an accused gunman who reportedly posted an anti-immigrant, white supremacist manifesto online minutes before the attack.
The foreign ministry listed several crowded public venues which could pose a threat to travelers: "theme parks, shopping centers, festivals, religious events, gastronomic fairs and any kind of cultural or sporting events."
Nearly all of the places listed have been the sites of mass shootings in the U.S., although the list was hardly exhaustive. As of Tuesday, the 218th day of 2019, there have been 255 mass shootings in the country.
Venezuela also pointed to the "recent proliferation of violent acts and hate crimes" as reason to exercise caution regarding travel to the U.S., and slammed the country for the "inexcusable, indiscriminate possession of firearms by the population, encouraged by the federal government."
"These increasing acts of violence have found an echo and support in the conversations and actions impregnated by racial discrimination and hatred against migrant populations, pronounced and executed by the supremacist elite who holds political power in Washington," the foreign ministry told Venezuelans in its travel warning.
In Detroit on Sunday, the Japanese Consul also alerted Japanese nationals with plans to travel to the U.S. that they "should be aware of the potential for gunfire incidents everywhere in the United States," according to the Los Angeles Times.
A minority of U.S. households own guns, yet a 2017 study found that there were 120.5 civilian-owned firearms for every 100 people in the United States. Other countries like Australia and New Zealand have instituted strict gun control measures and even weapons bans after a single mass shooting while the U.S. has allowed hundreds to take place each year.
Travel warnings were mirrored by stunned international coverage of the two shootings, which took place within 13 hours of one another and in which both gunmen used high-capacity magazines and military-style semi-automatic weapons, which are legal in the states where the gunmen bought them.
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An editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald on Sunday condemned the United States' "white nationalist terrorism crisis." The Argentinian newspaper Clarín reported "another massacre in the U.S." on Saturday, while the Dutch publication Algemeen Dagblad published a graphic explaining to readers that while the Netherlands is known for having more bicycles than people, the U.S. has more guns than people.
— Danny Kemp (@dannyctkemp) August 6, 2019
The reaction of officials in Venezuela and Uruguay as well as the international perception of the U.S. as a dangerous country was unsurprising but dismaying to observers on social media.
"The world is watching," wrote organizer Dan Knudsen.
Uruguay today issued a travel warning to its citizens visting the United States of America, citing “growing violence” fueled by “racism and discrimination” that American “authorities are unable to prevent” due to “indiscriminate” gun ownership. Let that sink in for a minute. pic.twitter.com/M0u6520caL
— Rep. Dean Phillips (@RepDeanPhillips) August 5, 2019
Sydney, Australia newspaper: “US in the Midst of a White Nationalist Terrorism Crisis.”
Uruguay issued a travel warning for any citizens traveling to the US, citing increasing indiscriminate violence rooted in racism.
The world is watching. https://t.co/hZqG0RedFi
— Nick Knudsen (@DemWrite) August 6, 2019