On February 13, the U.S. Embassy in Lima sent out a security message to all U.S. citizens warning of a potential kidnapping threat in Cusco. Part of the message reads as follows:
"The Embassy has received information that members of a criminal organization may be planning to kidnap U.S. citizen tourists in the Cusco and Machu Picchu area. Possible targets and methods are not known and the threat is credible at least through the end of February 2013."
The Embassy advises travelers in the area to remain aware of their surroundings, maintaining a high level of vigilance and monitoring local news stations for updates.
The U.S. Embassy released a similar security message on February 21, 2012, regarding a potential kidnapping threat in Iquitos. That particular message, which ultimately proved unfounded, was not well received by local authorities, who claimed it had tarnished the city's reputation.
It will be no surprise if authorities in Cusco react in a similar manner. The concept of criminal organizations targeting foreign tourists for kidnapping is almost unheard of in Peru. The U.S. Embassy, however, must understandably react to all such threats against its citizens.