WASHINGTON – Americans should not travel to Venezuela, the U.S. State Department warned in a new advisory on Tuesday.
Citing “crime, civil unrest, poor health infrastructure, and arbitrary arrest and detention of U.S. citizens,” the State Department’s guidance cautioned that the U.S. government has limited ability to help American citizens in Venezuela.
The warning comes amid an escalating political and economic crisis in Venezuela. The Trump administration is pushing for the ouster of President Nicolas Maduro and has recognized Juan Guaido, head of Venezuela’s opposition-led National Assembly, as the country’s interim president.
Anti-Maduro protesters have taken to the streets amid a spate of deadly violence and a brutal government crackdown on the opposition. The United Nations says at least 20 people have been killed, allegedly shot by the Maduro-controlled security officers or other pro-government forces.
The UN’s human rights chief Michelle Bachelet warned on Friday that the situation in Venezuela could “rapidly spiral out of control with catastrophic consequences.”
In raising its warning level from 3 to 4, the State Department noted that violent crime is common, food and medical shortages are rampant, and spontaneous demonstrations “typically elicit a strong police and security force response.”