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Country Reports

Venezuela Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

The main priority for President Nicolás Maduro in 2020 is to remain in full control of government functions. This implies maintaining military support, containing anti- government protests, and circumventing US sanctions on Venezuela’s oil, financial, and mining sectors. Other priorities include importing fuel, reducing the COVID-19-virus spread and securing Russian and Chinese investment and technical support to underpin the economy. Meanwhile, the US, Canada, and most Latin American countries that recognise head of the National Assembly Juan Guaidó as interim president since 23 January 2019 (and his reappointment in the legislature on 5 January 2020) are likely to continue calling for a negotiated solution with Maduro’s administration involving early free and fair presidential elections in exchange for lifting sanctions. Fuel, electricity, water, and food shortages are likely to intensify with the COVID-19-virus spread, increasing looting risks in the one-year outlook. Top military ranks so far have supported Maduro dispersing protests and incarcerating dissidents mostly because of incentives that have granted them control of the economy, including oil production, ports, and imports, all of them sources of rent and with some factions involved in drug trafficking, fuel smuggling, and illegal mining.The United States is likely to increase pressure to force Maduro to step down in the form of secondary sanctions and by designating Venezuela as a state that sponsors terrorism, expanding existing sanctions on the oil, mining, and financial sectors to all sectors of the economy. The Venezuelan economy, in deepening recession since 2014, now amid COVID-19 faces acutely adverse conditions. IHS Markit forecasts its real GDP to decline over 33.18% in 2020 and 11% in 2021. Oil production, exports of which generate over 96% of foreign-exchange earnings, is likely to fall below 250,000 barrels per day by 2021, driven by the impact of the COVID-19-virus outbreak, US sanctions, corruption, and mismanagement.
Last update: September 10, 2020

Operational Outlook

Unions are likely to pursue industrial action in state-owned industries, rather than in the private sector. Venezuela has the highest levels of corruption in the Latin American region affecting all ranks of officials with bribes a common practice to secure contracts or to smooth the passage of permits and paperwork for day-to-day operations. Anti-business rhetoric, excessive regulations, inspections, and restrictions derived from the current foreign-exchange control system raise operational risks in the one-year outlook. Energy shortages and widespread protests are also likely to pose operational constraints.

Last update: June 17, 2020

Terrorism

Elevated

Large-scale terrorist incidents are unlikely despite the government claiming, often for political reasons, that there are opposition-leaning groups responsible for sabotaging strategic electricity and oil infrastructure. There are no known insurgent groups in Venezuela with the intention or capability to undertake large-scale terrorist attacks. State-owned assets face vandalism, arson attacks, and property damage risks, particularly in Caracas and urban centres nationwide. These risks will increase in the next years, driven by confrontations between opposition and pro-government groups, and Maduro's administration's efforts to block free and fair elections and human rights violations by security forces.

Last update: June 17, 2020

Crime

Theft and petty crime are a significant risk, particularly in the capital Caracas, where the risk of being killed in an armed robbery is the highest in the region. Anzoátegui, Aragua, Carabobo, Lara, Miranda, Táchira, Sucre, and Zulia states also show high levels of crime.

Drug trafficking is a major problem with Venezuela a main transit country for cocaine. Drugs and weapons are given by international drug-trafficking organisations in payment to the government and customs officials, who control ports and airports. These drugs and weapons somehow end up in the hands of local gangs, increasing domestic drug consumption and gun-related violence in low-income sectors.

Last update: June 17, 2020

War Risks

Although an all-out war between Colombia and Venezuela is unlikely, strong rhetoric and complaints over increased migration from Venezuela and the presence of ELN insurgents operating in its territory tolerated by President Nicolás Maduro increases the risks of border closures and increased allocation of military troops to border areas. There is a low risk of conflict with neighbouring Guyana, with which there is a dispute over the sovereignty of the Essequibo region. Vessels operating in disputed areas, including mainly those in the disputed Essequibo region exploring for offshore oil, face the risk of detention by the Venezuelan Navy.

Last update: June 17, 2020

Social Stability

Very high

Amid food, fuel shortages and the COVID-19 virus spread, protests are likely in the three-month outlook calling for better health and public utilities services and infrastructure and for President Nicolás Maduro to step down. Protests normally start peacefully but become violent when security forces or pro-government non-state armed groups shoot at protesters or confront them violently. Violent protests are likely to take the form of roadblocks, arson attacks against government buildings and vehicles, and looting of retail stores and cargo trucks, affecting ground cargo and business operations nationwide.

Last update: June 17, 2020

Health Risk

Extreme

Vaccines required to enter the country

Yellow fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travelers arriving from Brazil. A single dose of YF vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained life-long immunity against the disease; it should be taken ten days in advance to be fully effective.

Vaccines recommended for all travelers

Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).

Vaccines recommended for most travelers

Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.

Typhoid fever: The typhoid fever vaccine can be administered via injection (administered in one dose) or orally (four doses). The vaccine is only 50-80 percent effective, so travelers to areas with a risk of exposure to typhoid fever, a bacterial disease, should also take hygienic precautions (e.g. drink only bottled water, avoid undercooked foods, wash hands regularly, etc.). Children can be given the shot beginning at two years of age (six for the oral vaccine).

Vaccines recommended for some travelers

Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.

Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).

Malaria: There is currently no malaria vaccine. However, various antimalarial prophylactics are available by prescription and can reduce risk of infection by up to 90 percent. Different medications are prescribed depending on the risk level and the strains of the virus present in the destination. Antimalarial tablets need to be taken throughout the trip to be effective and may need to be taken for as long as four weeks following the trip.

Yellow fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is generally recommended except for travelers only visiting the following regions: Aragua, Carabobo, Miranda, Vargas, Yaracuy, Distrito Federal (including Caracas), the city of Valencia, and high-altitude areas.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Natural Risks

Severe

Venezuela is also vulnerable to natural disasters. The rainy season (normally) lasts from May until December and torrential downpours and landslides are frequent during these months.

From June until the end of November, the northern Caribbean coast is regularly affected by tropical storms. While instances of hurricanes and tropical storms hitting Venezuela directly are relatively rare, storm systems can bring torrential rains, winds, and associated flooding and material damage to the country.

The hilly coastal areas, e.g. the north-central region of the country where Caracas is located, are at risk for earthquakes, although major damage or loss of life is rare.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Transportation

High

Various international airlines have suspended or reduced flights to and from Venezuela in recent months due to currency exchange issues, security concerns, and/or low demand.

It is also worth mentioning that Caracas is often brought to a virtual standstill by traffic jams.

Due to security concerns (high risk of carjacking), it is common practice to ignore red traffic lights, especially after dark, which leads to an increase in traffic accidents.

Checkpoints are common, especially on inter-city routes. They are generally operated either by local police or by the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB). Stopping at checkpoints is mandatory and drivers should be prepared to show vehicle registration paperwork, proof of insurance, and an ID ("cedula" or passport). Police or guardsmen may search vehicles stopped at checkpoints.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

Venezuela has a tropical climate with a temperate zone along the coast. In mountainous regions, temperatures are cooler. Temperatures generally remain relatively constant throughout the year. The dry season extends from December until April, and the rainy season the rest of the year. Rain becomes more frequent the further south you travel: the coast is relatively arid while Los Llanos (a vast tropical plain) and the Guyanese massif receive a lot of rain; the Amazonian region receives abundant levels rain throughout the year.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +58
Police: 171
Fire Dept.: 171
Ambulance: 171

Electricity

Voltage: 120 V ~ 60 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019