8/21/2014

Welcome to Venezuela

Travel to Venezuela is extremely risky. Violent crime in Venezuela is pervasive, both in the capital, Caracas, and in the interior. The country’s overall per capita murder rate is cited as one of the top 5 in the world. 

According to the non-governmental organization Venezuelan Violence Observatory (VVO), there were 24,763 homicides in Venezuela in 2013, amounting to a rate of 79 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, among the highest in the world (the US equivalent is 4.7 per 100,000; Spain´s is 0.8 per 100,000).   In Caracas, the homicide rate is even higher at 134 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.

Monica Spear, far right, was murdered by road hijackers 
with her husband while returning from the beach. 

According to Venezuelan government statistics, 583 kidnappings were officially reported to officials. Police sources indicate that as many as 80% of kidnappings go unreported, meaning that the official figure of 583 kidnappings in 2012 is likely much lower than actual numbers.

Armed robberies take place throughout Caracas and other cities, including in areas generally presumed safe and frequented by tourists. Well-armed criminal gangs operate widely, often setting up fake police checkpoints.

Maiquetía International Airport: Travel to and from Maiquetía Airport, the international airport serving Caracas, can be dangerous. Both arriving and departing travelers, including foreigners, have been victims of personal property theft and muggings in the airport.

The Embassy has also received several, credible reports of victims of “express kidnappings” occurring at the door of the airport, in which individuals are kidnapped and taken to make purchases or to withdraw as much money as possible from ATMs, often at gunpoint. Furthermore, there are known drug trafficking groups working from the airport.

Road between the airport and Caracas. 
Hijackers like to work at night, close to the tunnels. 

The road between Maiquetía Airport and Caracas is particularly dangerous. Visitors traveling this route at night have been kidnapped and held captive for ransom in roadside huts that line the highway. Because of the frequency of robberies at gunpoint, travelers are encouraged to arrive and depart only during daylight hours. Travelers should be aware of chokepoints inside tunnels and avoid obstacles in the road.


The British government has similar warnings: International airlines in Venezuela have recently reduced the availability of flights to and from the country. This has made it more difficult and expensive to buy flight tickets, especially if paid in local currency. 

From Diario El Amanecer reports on crime in Caracas

Levels of street crime are high. Armed muggings and ‘express kidnappings’ are a regular occurrence. Resistance to robbery has resulted in victims being shot dead. Take care at all times, especially when arriving in the country.

The Australian government warnings seem to mirror the UK´s: We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Venezuela because of high levels of serious crime and ongoing political uncertainty. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

Australians in Venezuela should be aware that ongoing social and political tensions could prompt unpredictable violent incidents. Since February 2014, demonstrations have occurred regularly in major urban centres throughout Venezuela, particularly in Caracas, Valencia, Maracay, Merida, San Cristobal. These have been associated with violence and have resulted in numerous deaths and injuries.

Several major international airlines have reduced or suspended flights to/from Venezuela. Australians in Venezuela should contact their airline or travel provider for information on possible disruptions.

Venezuela has one of the world’s highest crime rates. Violent crime, including murder, armed robbery, kidnapping and carjacking, occurs frequently throughout Venezuela. Due to high levels of serious crime in Venezuela, Australian officials have been instructed to adopt enhanced security measures when travelling by car.

Genesis Carmona being taken to the hospital after being 
shot in the head by a government official during a protest

The road between the Maiquetia Simon Bolivar airport and Caracas is particularly dangerous due to violent crime. There have been reports of muggings and kidnappings by criminals posing as taxi drivers.


Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Venezuela. 


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