Venezuela Travel Warning
Issued by US Department of State
Sep 18, 2015
The Department of State has issued this Travel Warning to inform U.S. citizens about security conditions in Venezuela. Thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Venezuela each year for study, tourism, business, and volunteer work. While U.S. citizens are not specifically targeted, violent crime in Venezuela is pervasive, both in the capital, Caracas, and in the interior. This replaces the Travel Warning issued on December 11, 2014 to include updated crime data.
Armed robberies take place throughout Caracas and other cities, including in areas generally presumed safe and frequented by tourists. Street crime can take place at any time, and upscale residential areas where many U.S. citizens live and visit are not immune from street crime and home invasion robberies. Recently, heavily armed criminals used grenades and assault rifles to commit crimes at banks, shopping malls, public transportation stations, and universities.
According to the non-governmental organization Venezuelan Violence Observatory (VVO), Venezuela has the second highest homicide rate in the world. Kidnappings are also a serious concern throughout the country, and, according to police sources, roughly 80 percent go unreported. Most can be classified as “express kidnappings” which last only a few hours, while the victim and/or family members gather as much money as possible for a quick release. Victims are often physically roughed up or even killed if they resist kidnappers’ demands. In addition, there is cross-border violence, kidnappings, drug trafficking, and smuggling along Venezuela’s western border with Colombia.
The Department of State considers the criminal threat to U.S. government personnel in Venezuela sufficiently serious to require them to live and work under strict security restrictions. All U.S. direct-hire personnel and their families assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Caracas are subject to an embassy movement policy for their safety and well-being. The details of the policy are found in our Country Specific Information on Venezuela. These practices limit, and may occasionally prevent, access by U.S. Embassy officials to certain areas of Caracas and the interior of the country.
In addition, all U.S. direct-hire personnel and their family members who are assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Caracas are required to take an armored vehicle when traveling to and from the Maiquetia Airport as well as when traveling in some parts of Caracas and the interior.
U.S. citizens in Venezuela should be vigilant of their surroundings at all times and in all locations, especially when entering or exiting their homes, hotels, cars, garages, schools, and workplaces. Whenever possible, U.S. citizens should travel in groups of two or more persons; avoid wearing jewelry and carrying large sums of money or displaying cash, ATM/credit cards, mobile phones, or other valuables; and avoid walking at night in most areas of Venezuela and walking alone on beaches, historic ruins, and trails. Incidents of crime along inter-city roads, including carjacking and kidnapping, are common in Venezuela. Motorists should avoid traveling at night and always drive with their doors locked to deter potential robberies at traffic lights and on congested city streets.