Troubles in Venezuela

This item appears on page 17 of the February 2018 issue.

The US Department of State recommends avoiding travel to Venezuela because of concerns regarding violent crime, social unrest and pervasive shortages of food and medicine.

Protests may occur with minimal public notice, and from April through August 2017 they occurred daily and often turned violent. Security forces typically deployed a range of strong countermeasures, including using tear gas, pepper spray and water cannons as well as rubber bullets, birdshot, buckshot and other live ammunition. Armed pro-government motorcycle gangs sometimes attacked and intimidated protesters.

These clashes resulted in numerous serious injuries and an estimated 160 deaths. During these protests, security forces arrested individuals, including US citizens, and detained them for long periods with little or no evidence of crimes having been committed.

Violence and criminal activity — including homicide, armed robbery, kidnapping and carjacking — are endemic throughout Venezuela. There are reports of authorities (e.g., police as well as airport and Immigration officials) and of criminals posing as authorities participating in robberies and extortion.

The Simón Bolívar International Airport in Maiquetía, near Caracas, is located in an extremely high-risk area for armed robberies and kidnappings. Do not take unregulated taxis from that airport, and avoid using ATMs in that area.

Due to shortages of medicine and medical supplies, travelers should be prepared to cover their own needs for over-the-counter and prescription medicines while in country. Comprehensive medical-evacuation insurance coverage is strongly advised.