US Warns Against Travel to This Caribbean Country

The U.S. government has once again issued its sternest travel advisory for Venezuela, cautioning American citizens about the risks of traveling to the South American nation. The advisory, which is the most severe warning the State Department can issue, cites civil unrest, a shift towards autocracy, persistent threats of terrorism, and anti-American sentiment as reasons for the warning.

The State Department highlighted the prevalence of violent crimes such as homicide, armed robbery, kidnapping, and carjacking in Venezuela. The situation is so perilous that the U.S. government is advising those who still choose to travel to the country to establish a ‘proof of life’ protocol with their loved ones. This protocol would involve specific questions and answers that could be used to confirm the well-being of a hostage and to rule out any potential hoaxes.

The State Department also expressed concern over the high risk of wrongful detention of U.S. nationals in Venezuela. It noted that U.S. citizens have been held by security forces for up to five years, often without the American government being notified or granted access to the detained individuals.

Venezuela, known for its extensive, largely untouched Caribbean coastline and pristine islands, used to attract hundreds of thousands of American tourists annually. However, these numbers have seen a sharp decline since Nicolás Maduro assumed power following the death of Hugo Chávez in 2013.

The State Department has criticized Maduro’s rise to power, stating that he “illegally claimed the presidency of Venezuela, despite global condemnation of a rigged election.” The Department also noted Maduro’s strengthening of alliances with nations such as Cuba, Russia, Iran, and China, which it claims further oppress the Venezuelan people.

The renewed warning, first issued in 2019 when the U.S. began withdrawing personnel from Venezuela, was reissued on May 13. This comes ahead of a crucial July election in Venezuela. The State Department also noted that political rallies and demonstrations, often met with a strong police and security force response, frequently occur with little notice.

In addition to political instability, Venezuela is grappling with severe shortages of essential resources, including water, gasoline, electricity, and medicine. The situation is further complicated by the high activity of terror groups from neighboring Columbia in the border regions.