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Current safety assessment of Venezuela?

Current safety assessment of Venezuela?

Old Jul 7, 14, 6:56 pm
  #1  
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Current safety assessment of Venezuela?

Before I go and completely panic my family, I thought I should check with my trusted FT family - am I crazy for wanting to go see the Catatumbo lightning this October?? How unstable is the environment there? The US advisory is rather grim, whereas the Canadian one stresses avoiding political rallies and anything within 80km of the border with Columbia.

I would probably be travelling on my own, but arranging a tour (unless I can convince one of my slightly less crazy male friends to join). I am not a green traveller - mostly hostels, but hotels are growing on me as I age; I have rented a car in South Africa and travelled solo there, so not unfamiliar with bad travel ideas; my Spanish is minimal ... okay perhaps closer to non-existent outside of ordering a beer.

I would love to do more than just that while in Venezuela, but from all that I can read, if I don't have a friend/guide who lives there, it's probably best to leave it for another decade?

Thanks for any insight/tips!
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Old Jul 8, 14, 10:57 am
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http://www.nydailynews.com/news/worl...icle-1.1620304

This comes a month after the former Miss Venezuela was also murdered.

Here is a blog post from a couple of years ago, the situation has gotten worse since then: http://wanderingtrader.com/travel-bl...cas-venezuela/

http://www.dcbachelor.com/venezuela-urban-hell
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Old Jul 8, 14, 12:18 pm
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Thanks, but I was sort of looking for the responses of people who have actually been there/live there and not blogs by people who are fond of sensationalism.

If I listened to stuff like that I never would have spent a month in Sochi during the Olympics because a major terrorist event was doomed to take us all out. Sort of like I would never have traveled to South Africa and rented a car by myself.
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Old Jul 8, 14, 2:53 pm
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There was nothing sensational about what I posted. A non-biased news article and 2 blog posts from people who have been, including one from a guy who is from there. Venezuela is one of the most dangerous countries in Earth and to be honest, you are safer in Baghdad than Caracas. Last year alone 24,000 people were murdered in Venezuela. Someone is killed there ever 21 minutes. There is 1 gun for every 2 citizens. If that doesn't give you pause then so be it.

The threat of terrorism in Sochi was pure speculation. What is happening in Venezuela is not.

Now, you also asked how unstable the environment is there. Violence aside, international mail delivery has been suspended there. Delta just announced yesterday they are joining the long list of other airlines in reducing service. They are running out of toilet paper. They are in the midst of a drought and rationing water.
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Old Jul 8, 14, 3:59 pm
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I only have a smattering of anecdotal advice to throw into the melée

1) I read a trip report recently, wish I could find it but I cannot. A North American guy I think (possibly even from Canadia) went to Catatumbo and hired a local guide on the basis that even from Maracaibo, Catatumbo is a fair schlep off the beaten path. The implication was that one would have to be mad to do such a trip without a local guide to watch your back.

2) Thanks to a scheduled LAN Peru flight that failed to materialise 2 weeks ago, I had the pleasure of wasting 6 hours with a Venezuelan couple at UIO. They had bussed it from Caracas to Valencia, then on to Maracaibo for a few days, crossed the border then travelled Maicao to Valledupar. In a normal world, sensible people don't travel the road from Maicao to Valledupar so this couple were hardly "green" either.

I am quite used to anti-Chavista Venezuelan expats rubbishing their own country but this couple seemed quite grounded in reality and were genuinely surprised at how their own country had descended into lawlessness. They actually got steamed on a bus outside of Valencia. The impression I got was that their reports were not hyperbole.

Being curious about Catatumbo, I ventured to ask if it was feasible to slip across the border from La Guajira to Maracaibo and undertake such a tour myself. Absolutely not apparently.
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Old Jul 8, 14, 4:28 pm
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You also have the realistic possibility of not being able to find flights to/from Venezuela at any price.
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Old Jul 8, 14, 6:07 pm
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I just snagged a round trip flight on United for 40k miles for 23-July through 29-July. I'm very curious about Caracas - exchanging cash, etc. If anybody has been to Caracas in recent weeks, I would love a rundown.
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Old Jul 8, 14, 6:26 pm
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I have family living in Venezuela and have continual contact with a lot of Venezuelans.

Speak Spanish and can look the part and have family and/or friends there? General safety precautions of travel.

Look white and don't speak the language and no contacts in country? Seriously, don't go.
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Old Jul 8, 14, 8:09 pm
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I, too, would love to see the Catatumbo lightning one day. Not now. Things are too unstable in Venezuela.

Originally Posted by nomadic.relief View Post
my Spanish is minimal ... okay perhaps closer to non-existent outside of ordering a beer
This is not a place to go without an excellent command of Spanish. You'd need to be able to keep abreast of goings-on. To go someplace with such a potential for violence and to have such limits on your ability to communicate would be the height of foolishness.

I just snagged a round trip flight on United for 40k miles for 23-July through 29-July. I'm very curious about Caracas - exchanging cash, etc. If anybody has been to Caracas in recent weeks, I would love a rundown.
Why are you going? Is there any reason other than the cheap mileage redemption?
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Old Jul 9, 14, 9:42 am
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I don't think some people realize it is dangerous as Iraq or Afganistan because it is Spanish speaking. Don't believe me, look at the murder rates.
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Old Jul 9, 14, 11:41 am
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Originally Posted by SJOGuy View Post
Why are you going? Is there any reason other than the cheap mileage redemption?
For the same reason I travel anywhere, to see and experience a new place. Venezuela is a fascinating place. Not to mention very cheap if you bring USDs into the country.
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Old Jul 10, 14, 3:55 pm
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I'm all for blazing new trails and discovering new lands. There's are lines, though, which I'm not willing to cross. This is one of them, for now, at least. Venezuela is a beautiful country. It's a shame what's happened to the place.

Not to mention very cheap if you bring USDs into the country.
Black-market activities can net you a stay in prison in Venezuela. Do be careful.
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Old Jul 12, 14, 11:29 am
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I'm planning a trip to Venezuela for October this year. Don't listen to people and go where ever your heart desires. Life is too short.
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Old Jul 12, 14, 12:14 pm
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Originally Posted by jammanxc View Post
I'm planning a trip to Venezuela for October this year. Don't listen to people and go where ever your heart desires. Life is too short.
Exactly. Like a little hike along the Iran/Iraq border because of the natural beauty. The OP wants to make sure that his life doesn't become shorter than "too short."

When one just listens to his heart (or other organs, from time to time), and leaves the brain out of the formula, the outcome isn't always the best.
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Old Jul 12, 14, 12:58 pm
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Originally Posted by Eastbay1K View Post
Exactly. Like a little hike along the Iran/Iraq border because of the natural beauty. The OP wants to make sure that his life doesn't become shorter than "too short."

When one just listens to his heart (or other organs, from time to time), and leaves the brain out of the formula, the outcome isn't always the best.
When was the last time an American tourist was murdered in Venezuela?
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