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Robbery-Slaying of U.S. Visitor Focuses Concern on Crime Rates in Mexico City

February 25, 2001|EDWARD WRIGHT

Latin America

Mexico: A 63-year-old Georgia woman was shot to death earlier this month during an attempted robbery in a tourist area on the southern outskirts of Mexico City. She and her husband were attacked by two men as they got into a car in San Angel, which is popular for its weekend arts and crafts market. The husband disputed reports that his wife was shot because she resisted the robbers.

Robbery, pickpocketing and purse snatching are the most frequently reported crimes involving tourists in the Mexican capital, according to the State Department. Robberies in taxis are common, and subway robberies are becoming more frequent. The Zona Rosa, a shopping district near the U.S. Embassy, and the area behind the embassy, are often the scenes of street crimes against foreigners.

Ecuador: Travelers may run into civil unrest resulting from Ecuador's economic turmoil, the State Department advises in a note effective until May 7. Disturbances have occurred north and south of Quito, the capital, around the towns of Otavalo and Latacunga, and in the town of Tena, about 75 miles southeast of Quito. Roadblocks have sprouted in rural areas, especially north and south of Quito along the Pan American Highway. Americans in Ecuador "should seriously consider deferring nonemergency road travel" until the situation calms down.

In another development, an American oil worker was found shot to death in the jungle near the Colombian border earlier this month. He had been held for ransom, apparently by a gang of Ecuador-based kidnappers who, at press time Wednesday, were still holding several foreign oil workers, including four Americans.


Cambodia: Violence against foreigners appears to be increasing, the U.S. ambassador to Cambodia said in response to an incident in which an American tourist was shot during a visit to Phnom Penh. The traveler, a 33-year-old New Yorker, was riding on the back of a motorcycle taxi just after midnight earlier this month when he was run off the road by two men on another motorcycle. In a struggle, the American was shot and wounded, then robbed of about $40.

The U.S. envoy warned tourists to be especially careful when traveling around the capital at night. In its standing notice to travelers, the State Department says that several Americans have been robbed at gunpoint in Phnom Penh, most of them while riding on motorcycle taxis and generally after dark.

The embassy advises visitors to carry photocopies rather than originals of their passport and other important documents.

Briefly . . .

Israel: In response to ongoing political violence, two cruise lines have dropped the Israeli city of Haifa from their port calls. Celebrity Cruises said its Millennium liner will stop instead at Limassol, Cyprus, as part of its 12-day Mediterranean cruises. The Seabourn cruise line said its Seabourn Spirit vessel will bypass Haifa for Alexandria, Egypt, during its spring and autumn cruises. . . . France: A bomb that seriously damaged a bank in the French Riviera city of Nice late last month may have been the work of Corsican separatists, police said. Authorities had been on alert for terrorism in Paris and Marseilles after a militant separatist group warned that it would set off bombs in those two cities as part of its campaign for Corsican autonomy.

The U.S. State Department offers recorded travel warnings and advisories at (202) 647-5225. Internet address is


Edward Wright is a former assistant foreign editor at The Times. His column appears monthly.

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