Thursday, June 19, 2014

Brazil: Update--Most Major Cities are Designated "Critical-Threat"

According to http://soccerly.com, Japanese tourist Takeshi Itai, 34, foolishly visited a favela [slum area] in the eastern section of Salvador da Bahia when his taxi was surrounded by five gunmen seemingly protecting their "turf."

Fortunately, for the tourist, his driver was more prudent than the fare, and had the good sense to promptly leave the area before the thugs could reach the vehicle.

COMMENT: Although Itai claimed to THE JAPAN TIMES to have visited some fifty countries during  his young life, he obviously had never been to Brazil where most of the country's major cities are classified by the US Department of State's Bureau of Diplomatic Security as "Critical-Threat," the highest level of criminal threat in any country.

As I have noted so often in the past, the majority of foreign travelers fail to even question the prevailing threat of criminal violence before boarding an airliner for a destination. Doing so constitutes a security vulnerability.

The above being said, it is miraculous that no foreign traveler to the Games has been murdered, largely thanks to the Brazilian government's flooding the country with police and soldiers.

As of June 16, the Japanese Foreign Ministry stated that it has been notified of at least seven criminal incidents involving Japanese tourists. The Ministry has again issued a warning to all 5,000 Japanese tourists in Brazil to be careful and to avoid all favelas.

Since prices are high in Brazil for the Games many young travelers are visiting the country "on the cheap" and predominantly traveling on foot, which exposes them to being victimized on the streets. 

It makes far more sense for compatriots to hire a hotel taxi and split the fare.

Considering that FIFA tickets are so costly, foreign travelers are the primary targets resulting in the wholesale theft of  wristwatches, wallets, and electronic devices from fans at some of the events. 

In addition, there have been reports of Japanese tourists being robbed of large amounts of cash and/or game tickets.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry said it believes most victims of crime in Brazil won’t report the incidents to local police unless it involves the theft of their passport. This generally is very sound advice as a significant percentage of Brazilian police and soldiers frequently commit crimes.

The Consular Office of Japan in the city of Recife related that at least one Japanese visitor had their passport stolen, along with tickets to Japanese events, resulting in the theft of  credit cards, cash, a computer and a digital camera.