Posted onOctober 1, 2017byifnm|Comments Off on US slashes Cuba embassy staff, warns Americans not to visit after ‘attacks’
In Friday’s travel warning, the State Department said some of the unexplained physical effects have occurred in Cuban hotels, and that while American tourists aren’t known to have been hurt they could be exposed if they travel to Cuba.
The United States on Friday abruptly warned Americans not to visit Cuba and ordered more than half its Havana embassy personnel to leave the island in a dramatic response to mysterious recent “specific attacks” harming the health of U.S. diplomats.
The actions deal a blow to already delicate ties between the U.S. and Cuba, longtime adversaries who only recently began putting their hostility behind them. The embassy in Havana will lose roughly 60 percent of its U.S. staff, and will stop processing visas in Cuba indefinitely, officials said. Roughly 50 Americans are currently working at the embassy in Havana.
“Until the government of Cuba can ensure the safety of our diplomats in Cuba, our embassy will be reduced to emergency personnel in order to minimize the number of diplomats at risk of exposure to harm,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement announcing the step.
He and President Donald Trump reviewed the options in a White House meeting this week, officials said.
Posted onJune 15, 2016byifnm|Comments Off on Popular Montenegro resort on ‘lockdown’ after deadly gang violence
The violence in the town is thought to be drug-related, with many local gangs said to be active in smuggling and money laundering.
With its sun-drenched beaches, medieval-built hotels and rugged Adriatic coastline, the Montenegro town of Kotor is popular with travellers seeking sun and solitude on their summer adventures – but its tourism industry is being threatened by a wave of gang-related crimes, according to government officials.
Kotor, one of the most visited resort towns in the tiny Balkans country, is on “lockdown” according to Montenegro’s police minister Goran Danilovic, local news network Balkans Insight reports.
Over the past three months, the medieval fortress town has experienced six incidents of gang-related crimes, including gunfights and a murder. “Several incidents in Kotor in a short time period [have] affected perceptions, caused doubt and, in some people, even fear that they are not safe in this town,” said Mr Danilovi?. “Kotor must cease to be the centre of clashes between rival criminal gangs.”
According to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, “Most visits to Montenegro are trouble-free,” although – like most places around the world – there is an “underlying threat from terrorism”. It is unknown whether the FCO will change this advisory, or issue a warning specific to Kotor.
Posted onMay 29, 2016byifnm|Comments Off on Acapulco, a once booming tourist destination now riddled with police, guns and violence (Video)
“There are 300 paid killers on the costera,” the underworld figure said, gesturing expansively over plates of fried fish and shrimp. At least one other bodyguard was nearby. “A decent killer makes about 5,000 pesos ($275) a week.”
Along with beach towels or sandals, there’s a new popular beach accessory that says a lot about the violence gripping this once-glamorous resort: a small black leather tote hanging from the neck or shoulders of some men. It’s not a man-bag, exactly; it holds a small pistol.
“When I saw you guys standing outside my office, I almost went for my bag,” said one businessman who lives in terror after getting death threats and extortion demands by criminal gangs at his office four blocks from the water. “I’m in fear for my life.”
Death can strike anywhere in Acapulco these days: A sarong vendor was slain on the beach in January by a gunman who escaped on a Jet Ski. Another man was gunned down while enjoying a beer at a seaside restaurant. In the hillside slums that ring the city, a 15-year-old girl’s body was found chopped into pieces and wrapped in a blanket, her severed head in a bucket nearby with a hand-lettered sign from a drug gang.
Posted onMarch 7, 2016byifnm|Comments Off on Acapulco: Tourist Mecca and Cartel Murder Capital
There used to be a line of demarcation between the drug-gang violence and the tourists in this once-glamorous resort. Not any more.
One comforting truism of the drug war in Mexico holds that drug-related violence and tourism are mutually exclusive of one another—like the orbits of neighboring planets, the two supposedly never intersect.
But the sunburned vendors who trudge from beach umbrella to beach umbrella hawking their wares to tourists here along the Bay of Santa Lucía have a different story to tell. Five of their number have been murdered here in a month, as the violence that has for years plagued the favela-like neighborhoods on the city’s periphery has reached at last the tourist beaches downtown.
On Saturday, Feb. 20, after the fourth such murder, sun bathers and tourism boosters in this city were treated to the spectacle of Mexican Army and Marines trudging past them on the sand in combat helmets and battle fatigues with assault rifles at the ready.
The deployments are part of a new and somewhat desperate government effort to keep the violence contained. The playground of Sinatra and the Rat Pack, immortalized by Elvis Presley’s “Fun in Acapulco,” is finally getting the Francis Ford Coppola treatment.
Tourists and locals give the new strategy mixed reviews. Several told The Daily Beast they feel safer and more reassured. Others did not. “I don’t think it deters crime. And it’s scary,” said one Canadian tourist, who declined to give his name.
There is broad consensus, however, on one point: in the city long known as The Pearl of the Pacific, this is a first.
Posted onDecember 20, 2015byifnm|Comments Off on U.S. Consulate Warns Americans Traveling to Mexico During Holidays
“The travel advisories are not exclusive for tourists but also for any citizen who regularly crosses the border.”
The State of Tamaulipas has become in one of the most dangerous places worldwide. This is due to the daily violence that take place in this region of Mexico. Kidnappings, shootouts, extortions, among other crimes, keep the Mexican government busy when it comes to security matters without authorities being able to take any true control over the activities carries out by organized crime.
As the Holiday Season’s near, the U.S. Consulate General in Matamoros is reminding American citizens visiting Mexico to remain alert about the unstable security conditions in that country.
Angela Kerwin, American Consul in Matamoros, stated that the security warnings about Mexico are not exclusive to tourist but to any U.S. citizen who crosses the border.
“Tamaulipas is not considered a hostile territory but it is considered by the government as dangerous,” she said.
The diplomat stated that the conditions that remain along Tamaulipas highways keep active a travel advisory issued out by the Department of State.
Kerwin stated that as a consulate they have the responsibility to keep citizens informed specially if they travel through Mexico or other countries with similar conditions.
Jan 20, 2016– The inaugural lecture of the School of Public Policy’s Wilburn Distinguished Lecture Series on Politics and Policy featured British historian and biographer Andrew Roberts. Roberts spoke about his most recent book Napoleon the Great (the American edition is titled Napoleon: A Life), which was awarded the 2015 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for best biography.