Venezuela has been in in civil and political unrest for quite some time. This all came to a head on Wednesday, January 23, 2019 when Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido swore himself into office as president. The only issue with the swearing in is that Venezuela already has a president, Nicolas Maduro. I will not get into the politics of all of it, because that is not the purpose of the this blog. Due to the United States (U.S.) recognizing Guaido as the president, Maduro cut ties with the U.S. and ordered all American diplomats to leave the country within 72 hours.
The U.S. Department of State has issued a Level 3 Travel Advisory for Venezuela. There are four Travel Advisory Levels, with Level 1 or normal, being the lowest and Level 4 or do not travel, being the highest. Level 3 states that citizens should reconsider travel. This is due to crime, civil unrest, poor health infrastructure, and arbitrary arrest and detention of U.S. citizens.
The State Department advises citizens not to travel:
- On roads after dark outside of Caracas due to crime.
- To certain neighborhoods within Caracas due to crime.
- Within 50 miles of the Colombian border due to crime.
Political rallies and demonstrations occur, often with little notice. Demonstrations typically elicit a strong police and security force response that includes the use of tear gas, pepper spray, water cannons, and rubber bullets against participants and occasionally devolve into looting and vandalism. The rallies will intensify in the coming days as supporters on both sides show their allegiance.
The State Department wants travelers to Venezuela to do the following:
- Do not travel between cities after dark.
- Avoid travel between Simón Bolívar International Airport and Caracas at night.
- Do not take unregulated taxis from Simón Bolívar International Airport and avoid ATMs in this area.
- Avoid demonstrations.
- Bring a sufficient supply of over-the-counter and prescription medicines.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Follow the State Department on Facebook and Twitter.
- U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations.
To say that the situation in Venezuela will become more volatile in the coming days is an understatement. I would not travel there unless I have a valid reason for being in the country (none come to mind). If you feel like traveling to or from Venezuela, American Airlines is the only U.S. carrier operating to the nation.