food / travel

Massive Crowds And Crumbling Monuments, Has Venice Reached A Breaking Point?

Venice is falling apart at the seams – quite literally in some of its best-known places. Critics say unregulated tourism is destroying Italy’s beautiful and fragile lagoon city.

Venice locals complain that tourists have taken over the city
Venice locals complain that tourists have taken over the city

Worldcrunch NEWS BITES

VENICE -- The most recent warning sign came Monday, July 25, when the Venice police department announced that the city was officially closed to cars. The reason? There's simply no more room. The bridge leading in to Venice was jam packed. All of the city's parking lots were sold out.

People were instead encouraged to use the train, which is ironic. Just the day before, a train accident in Rome snarled up Italy's entire rail network. In Venice, the delays meant long waits for hundreds of tourists. Adding to the city's woes is that fact that for some strange reason, construction has begun in Piazzale Roma – in the middle of summer of all times.

A troubling and very real feeling is starting to sink in. Venice, by all accounts, is at a breaking point. There's no room to fit any more people. And on an island without escape routes, the overcrowding is dangerous.

Who is to blame? With no planning or foresight, the city has greedily tried to squeeze in as many tourists as possible. That, in turn, has caused tensions with locals, who can no longer stand the waves of visitors who invade the tiny streets and squares, making it almost impossible to walk.

The island seems to be falling apart physically as well. Last weekend, a chunk of the venerable old Rialto Bridge came loose, crashing on to the busy pathway below, where it left a large crater. Fortunately no one was hurt. The city might not be so lucky next time, especially now that the car ban is putting even more pedestrians onto Venice's already overcrowded sidewalks.

Read the full article in Italian by Anna Sandri

Photo - Skype Nomad

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Migrant Lives

The Other Scandal At The Polish-Belarusian Border: Where's The UN?

The United Nations, UNICEF, Red Cross and other international humanitarian organizations seems to be trying to reach the Polish-Belarusian border, where Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko is creating a refugee crisis on purpose.

Migrants in Michalowo, Belarus, next to the border with Poland.

Wojciech Czuchnowski

WARSAW — There is no doubt that the refugees crossing the Belarusian border with Poland — and by extension reaching the European Union — were shepherded through by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko. There is more than enough evidence that this is an organized action of the dictator using a network of intermediaries stretching from Africa and the Middle East. But that is not all.

The Belarusian regime has made no secret that its services are guiding refugees to the Polish border, literally pushing them onto (and often, through) the wires.

It can be seen in films made available to the media by... Belarusian border guards and Lukashenko's official information agencies.

Tactics of a strongman

Refugees are not led to the border by "pretend soldiers" in uniforms from a military collectibles store. These are regular formations commanded by state authorities. Their actions violate all rules of peaceful coexistence and humanitarianism to which Belarus has committed itself as a state.

Belarus is dismissed by the "rest of the world" as a hopeless case of a bizarre (although, in the last year, increasingly brutal) dictatorship. But it still formally belongs to a whole range of organizations whose principles it violates every day on the border with Poland.

Indeed, Belarus is a part of the United Nations (it is even listed as a founding state in its declaration), it belongs to the UNICEF, to the International Committee of the Red Cross, and even to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Photo of Polish soldiers setting up a barbed wire fence in the Border Zone near Krynki, Belarus

Polish soldiers set up a barbed wire fence in the Border Zone near Krynki, Belarus

Maciej Luczniewski/ZUMA

Lukashenko would never challenge the Red Cross

Each of these entities has specialized bureaus whose task is to intervene wherever conventions and human rights are violated. Each of these organizations should have sent their observers and representatives to the conflict area long ago — and without asking Belarus for permission. They should be operating on both sides of the border, as their presence would certainly make it more difficult to break the law.

An incomprehensible absence

Neither the leader of Poland's ruling party Jaroslaw Kaczyński nor even Lukashenko would dare to keep the UN, UNICEF, OSCE or the Red Cross out of their countries.

In recent weeks, the services of one UN state (Belarus) have been regularly violating the border of another UN state (Poland). In the nearby forests, children are being pushed around and people are dying. Despite all of this, none of the international organizations seems to be trying to reach the border nor taking any kind of action required by their responsibilities.

Their absence in such a critical time and place is completely incomprehensible, and their lack of action raises questions about the use of international treaties and organizations created to protect them.

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