Multiple media and local sources have reported that security personnel from the National Guard (GNB) at Simón Bolívar International Airport (CCS; also called Maiquetía) have been forcing travelers to turn over their cell phones for inspection. Guardsmen have stopped people traveling to, from, and through the airport and specifically searched phones for any disparaging comments about the Venezuelan government, particularly in the WhatsApp messaging application. Individuals have reported on social media that a young male was detained for 24 hours after guards discovered messages critical of the government.
Venezuela has been devastated by a long series of progressively worsening crises affecting the restive country in recent months and years, including a breakdown of the democratic system, major shortages of gasoline, medications, food, and other basic necessities, an alarming spike in rates of violent crime, massive inflation and economic recession, and a resurgence of disease. For nearly two months, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators across the country have been denouncing a wide range of grievances and demanding elections through mass protests and marches, many of which have resulted in violent clashes with police and military forces.
Travelers are advised to adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and take the above information into account when flying to, from, or through Venezuela. Individuals throughout the country are advised to adhere to strictly avoid all protests and associated roadblocks due to the likelihood of violence, to closely monitor the situation, and to remain vigilant at all times.
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