U.S. State Department Warns Against Travel To Venezuela

The U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory warning Americans against traveling to Venezuela because of crime, civil unrest, kidnapping,?and the?arbitrary enforcement of local laws.

The U.S. State Department stated that homicide, armed robbery, kidnapping, and carjacking are common in Venezuela, along with violent political rallies and demonstrations, which include tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets used against participants, along with looting and vandalism.

The advisory is a Level Four travel advisory, meaning Americans should not visit the country. The State Department said Americans should reconsider traveling there because of wrongful detentions, terrorism, and poor health infrastructure.

Security forces have detained U.S. citizens for up to five years. The U.S. government is also not generally notified of the detention of U.S. citizens in Venezuela or granted access to U.S. citizen prisoners there. Finally, authorities also say Colombian terrorist groups operate in Venezuela's border areas with Colombia, Brazil, and Guyana.

In March 2019, the State Department withdrew all diplomatic personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Caracas and suspended operations.?This means if a U.S. citizen in Venezuela now required emergency assistance, the U.S. government would not be able to help. "Why Americans should avoid traveling to this popular South American country" www.khou.com (May 24, 2024).

Commentary

Here are additional specific travel precautions for Venezuela.

  • U.S. citizens are warned to avoid all land border crossings into Venezuela on the Colombian border.
  • Be prepared for the high risk of indefinite detention without consular access.
  • Avoid travel between cities or between Simón Bolívar International Airport and Caracas at night.
  • Do not take unregulated taxis from the airport.
  • Avoid ATMs in this area.
  • Consider hiring a professional security organization.

In general, when traveling for work or personal reasons, take precautions.

  • Develop a communication plan with your employer and family or host organization.
  • Establish a "proof of life" protocol with your loved ones, so that if you are taken hostage, your loved ones know specific questions (and answers) to ask the hostage-takers to be sure that you are alive (and to rule out a hoax).
  • Develop a contingency travel plan that does not rely on U.S. government assistance. Keep travel documents up to date and easily accessible.
  • Bring a sufficient supply of over-the-counter and prescription medicines for the duration of travel.
  • Consider purchasing medical evacuation insurance.

One resource is an app called SafeAround, which compiles and analyzes data from several public sources to make a safety index that ranks about 140 cities around the world for safety. Another security specialist, International SOS, now has added a mental health risk layer to its risk assessment map.

Register with the U.S. State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which is a free service allowing U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Enrollees will receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in their destination country. STEP allows the U.S. Embassy to contact you in an emergency, whether that arises from a natural disaster, civil unrest, or a family emergency. Remember to check to see if the embassy nearest you is operational, unlike the one in Venezuela.

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