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The Independent Travel
Panama: "Due to the high crime rate visitors are advised to be on their guard when carrying documents and money. Where possible these should be deposited in hotel safes. Take care on buses and at bus depots. Robberies have occurred in downtown Panama City (Avenida Central shopping area), and tourist spots at the Plaza de Francia and Old Panama ruins. There are occasional hold-ups in restaurants. Visitors are advised to register at the British Embassy (269 0866). Do not transit the Darien Peninsula to/ from Colombia" - Foreign Office.

Peru: "Although terrorist activity in Lima has dropped considerably in the last several years, the car bomb that exploded at the municipal offices in Ate-Vitarte on 15 May 15 demonstrates the still very real danger of terrorist attacks in Lima. Virtually all bombings in recent years have occurred in the evening and early morning hours. The most popular targets have been banks, post offices, public utilities, Peruvian government offices, and the homes of Peruvian government employees. Two embassies, one hotel and one multinational corporation have been bombed in the last three years. Selective assassinations have been carried out against police officers and public officials, particularly in the poorer communities around Lima" - US State Department.

Argentina: "There has been an increase in thefts and robberies, sometimes involving violence. In Buenos Aires the most frequent problems involve bag-snatching and armed robberies in the street, in taxis and restaurants.

Be alert at all times: con-men have frequently robbed tourists while an accomplice pretends to help remove ketchup or mustard which has been `accidentally' sprayed on them" -Foreign Office.

Guatemala: "Three highway bandits died after being lynched by villagers in the western department of Huehuetenango. It was the latest in numerous incidents in the past 18 months in both Guatemala and Mexico in which citizens frustrated with inefficient and corrupt judicial systems have taken the law into their own hands" - AP.

Colombia: "The Colombian government has conceded for the first time that its security forces may have links with paramilitary groups. The government said it had lost control over large parts of its forces in areas where there was intense guerrilla and paramilitary activity. The government also said it agreed with US estimates that 250,000 soldiers and police offices could be involved in human rights abuses" - BBC World Service.

Ecuador: "Ecuador has placed the Galapagos Islands under a state of emergency to prevent the nature reserve from losing its special United Nations status due to environmental deterioration. The measure seeks to limit human migration and the spread of alien species to the islands and preserve their environmental balance" - AP.

For Foreign Office advice, contact the Travel Advice Unit by telephoning 0171-238 4503 or 4504, or fax 0171-238 4545; on the Internet, at http://www.fco.gov.uk/, or on BBC-2 Ceefax, from page 470 onwards.

Trouble spots Latin America

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