World Travel Watch: Strikes in Greece, Ongoing Protests in Thailand and More

World Travel Watch: Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

04.28.10 | 10:38 AM 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.

Brazil: Sao Paulo State’s Southern Beach Towns See Upswing in Gang Murders

The U.S. Consulate in Sao Paulo reported that since April 18, 13 murders occurred in the beach neighborhoods of Praia Grande, Santos, Sao Vicente and Guaruja on the southern coast of Sao Paulo state. Local police were among the victims of what appeared to be gang-related violence. Because of the possibility of more incidents, the consulate recommends that travelers avoid these regions until further notice.

Cayman Islands: Crime Increase Prompts Government to Call in the Brits

The crime rate here is low compared to many Caribbean islands, but it has increased enough to prompt authorities to bring in British police to bolster the local force and clamp down on violent gangs. The British territory of 55,000 people has had five murders, a kidnapping, armed robberies and shootings this year. Officials plan to employ the 14 British investigators on murder inquiries and gang-related crime, and to increase police visibility, authorities canceled local officers’ vacations and rest days and put them on 12-hour shifts.

Greece: Strikes Paralyze Athens Transport, More to Come May 5

Transport workers walked off the job and stopped Athens’ buses, trams and metro for six hours April 27 to protest austerity measures imposed to try to pull Greece out of its financial crisis. Labor unions that represent half the country’s workforce called for a national strike May 5 saying the deficit-cutting policies hurt only the poor. The strike could paralyze Athens and other cities and disrupt travel throughout the country.

India: Strikes Shut Down Transport; U.S. Consulate Sees Threat to New Delhi Markets

Strikes to protest rising food and fuel prices shut down air, rail and road traffic in several parts of India April 27. Disruptions occurred in the West Bengal city of Kolkata and the states of Bihar, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala. No major violence or injuries were reported. Additional strikes cannot be ruled out. In other news, the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi issued a warning April 21 stating that there are increased indications that terrorists are planning attacks against markets in New Delhi, listing several as especially attractive targets. These are Chandni Chowk, Connaught Place, Greater Kailash, Karol Bagh, Mehrauli and Sarojini Nagar. The last major attack at a marketplace in New Delhi was in Sept. 2008.

Israel: iPad Ban Lifted

Israel’s short ban on Apple iPads is over, with the Communications Ministry allowing the digital device into the country as of April 26 following a second technical review.

Thailand: ‘Red Shirt’ Protests Continue, Tensions Grow

The ongoing “Red Shirt” demonstrations in Bangkok showed no sign of ending and if anything escalated April 27 when protesters shut down the city’s elevated railway system. With a state of emergency in place, the Red Shirts holding out in a fortified encampment in the middle of Bangkok’s shopping and tourist district, the government warning it would adopt tougher measures to quell the unrest and government supporters and other groups fed up with the disruption to business and livelihoods, it appears that the situation may be about to erupt. All sides, including the military, still say they want a political solution, but whether one can be found is uncertain.

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