World Travel Watch: Demonstrations in Venezuela, Clashes in Namibia and More
World Travel Watch: Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news
11.19.09 | 2:10 PM ET
World Travel Watch is a weekly report designed to help you make informed judgments about travel. Conditions can change overnight, so always make your own inquiries before you leave home. The U.S. State Department and embassies or consulates are good places to start.
Germany: Government Takes al-Qaeda Threats Seriously
The U.S. State Department reissued a travel alert for Germany warning of threats by al-Qaeda against German interests. The original threats mentioned the German elections in September, but German authorities feel the threats remain and are taking them seriously, continuing to actively investigate them. The travel alert encourages Americans to remain alert and aware, to maintain a low profile and take into consideration the level of security present when choosing hotels and restaurants, or visiting public places and events.
Namibia: Political Parties Clash Before Nov. 27-28 Election
The U.S. Embassy in Windhoek reported violent clashes between rival political parties Nov. 8 near Outapi in the north, and warned that similar incidents could occur leading up to the Nov. 27-28 national elections. Spontaneous demonstrations happen in Namibia occasionally and are usually intended to be peaceful, but confrontation and violence is always possible.
Russia: Work Permit Red Tape Becomes Redder, Government Admits Many Police Are Corrupt
The red tape for working in Russia just got a little more tangled now that immigration officials are requiring foreigners seeking work permits to present “diplomas” showing their credentials along with an “apostille,” a stamp from the foreigner’s Foreign Ministry certifying the diploma’s authenticity. The law demanding an apostille has been on the books since 2006 but officials only began to enforce it in September, a move apparently designed to preserve more jobs for Russians. In other news, the Russian government acknowledged that many of the country’s police officers are corrupt in the face of an online video posted by a police officer in southern Russia appealing to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to restore the honor of the police force. The Interior Ministry vowed to prosecute any alleged crimes by police. In some cities officers claim to be so poorly paid that they are forced to accept bribes to survive.
Venezuela: Demonstrations in Caracas Are Frequent, Often Violent
The U.S. Embassy in Caracas issued an alert reminding travelers that political demonstrations are frequent in Caracas and other cities, and in the past they have involved tear gas, gunfire and other violence. Marches usually occur on main thoroughfares and severely disrupt traffic, while demonstrations often take place near university campuses and in public plazas. Most major tourist areas have not been affected by such rallies, but the popular tourist city of Merida in the Andes has had frequent demonstrations, some of which have turned violent.
United Kingdom: Thameslink Trains Running Reduced Schedule, Driver Strike Possible in December
A shortage of train drivers caused significant delays in service on the First Capital Connect Thameslink line linking London and several cities including Gatwick airport. The drivers are not on strike, but they are refusing to work automatic overtime, forcing the train system to reduce the number of trains operating. A revised schedule is in place on the line that provides service to such cities as Bedford, Luton, St. Albans, Wimbledon, Sutton and Brighton. A future strike is possible because the union is voting on whether to walk out in December. The vote result will be announced Dec. 9.