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Venezuela Public Announcement

Issued by US Department of State

Aug 18, 2003

This Public Announcement is being issued to alert US citizens to the current security and political situation in Venezuela. The government of Venezuela has increased law enforcement presence on the streets in Venezuela, but street and airport robberies continue to be endemic. This Public Announcement will expire February 28, 2004.

The political situation remains fluid. August 19, 2003, marks the halfway point of President Chavez's term in office. Chavez opponents are pressing to revoke the president's mandate via a recall referendum. With the National Assembly unable to select a new National Electoral Council (CNE), the Supreme Court has stated it will do so to ensure the Venezuelan constitutional right to hold such a referendum. Major political demonstrations, with high potential for violence, are expected to take place on a frequent basis during this period of uncertainty. U.S. citizens should avoid all demonstrations and areas where groups are gathering. Additionally, they should monitor radio and TV broadcasts for any sudden changes in the political situation.

Transport services in Venezuela are now running at full capacity and international travel is back to normal. Essential food supplies are largely available, but spot shortages occur and non-essential food supplies remain scarce. Most services, with the exception of medical services, are running near normal capacity. Access to health care, including emergency medical services, is becoming increasingly difficult particularly in public hospitals and in some private clinics. Payment for medical services, in most cases, is expected upfront and there is a continuing drastic shortage of medical supplies.

Foreign exchange restrictions remain in place making it very difficult to receive funds, even in emergencies. The American Embassy Consular Section is able to provide emergency consular services to American citizens. In the case of an emergency or for the latest security information, the U.S. Embassy can be reached at 58-212-975-6411. For further information, please see the Consular Information Sheet for Venezuela and the Worldwide Public Announcement on the Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet home page at http://travel.state.gov.

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