Overall Crime and Safety Situation
U.S. Embassy Caracas does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED CARACAS AS BEING A CRITICAL-THREAT LOCATION FOR CRIME DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Please review OSAC’s Venezuela-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.
Venezuela remains one of the deadliest countries in the world with increasing violence and criminal activity in 2016, at times reaching unprecedented levels. The government of Venezuela often attempts to refute claims of increasing crime and murder rates; however, their claims are widely rejected by independent observers. Official crime figures are not released by government officials, but unofficial statistics indicate that most categories of crime increased in 2016, despite unprecedented levels in 2015. The majority of Caracas’ crime and violence remains attributed to mobile street gangs and organized crime groups. Caracas is notorious for the brazenness of high-profile violent crimes (murder, robbery, kidnapping) committed in neighborhoods across the city, at all hours. The Mexican think tank Citizen’s Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice listed three locations in Venezuela among the world’s top 10 most dangerous cities; Caracas was listed as number one, with Maturin and Valencia listed as number five and number seven, respectively.
Violent crime is the greatest threat in Caracas, affecting local Venezuelans and foreigners. Venezuelan NGO Observatory of Violence (OVV) listed Caracas as the most violent city in the world in 2016, and Venezuela as the second most murderous nation after El Salvador. The OVV has tracked violence through police sources and media reporting. In its annual report, OVV stated that Venezuela had over 28,479 homicides in 2016, a rate of 91.8 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. This number is up from VVO’s reported rate of 90 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2015 based on a total of 27,875 for the year. In Caracas, the rate is even higher, with OVV indicating a rate of 140 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.
2016 was also a deadly year for law enforcement. Unofficial statistics indicate that 241 police officers and law enforcement personnel were killed countrywide, many of whom were victims of targeted assassination. These acts usually occur in order to gain access to the victim’s weapons and ammunition, fueling further criminal activity. Criminal factors attributed to this pervasive criminality include:
- Poorly paid, poorly trained, under-equipped, and often corrupt police force;
- an inefficient and politicized judicial system;
- a system of violent and largely overcrowded prisons that are under the control of prison gang leaders;
- country-wide availability of millions of illegal weapons.
U.S. Embassy locally employed staff often report being victims of armed robberies and carjacking. There is no indication that American citizens or U.S. Embassy-affiliated personnel are specifically targeted for crime because of their nationality or official status.
The poorest areas (barrios, ranchos) frequently provide safe havens for criminal gangs. A majority of violent crimes occur in these areas, but criminal “ownership” of some of these neighborhoods often prevents police from entering. In many areas, police presence is only observed after an incident has occurred. High levels of vehicle ownership and the continuing negligible cost of fuel permit criminals the mobility to operate more widely in affluent areas so that wealthier victims can be targeted. In fact, relatively affluent residential Caracas neighborhoods in Chacao, Baruta, and El Hatillo (where many government leaders, professionals, businesspeople, and foreign diplomats reside) saw regular incidents of kidnapping, home invasion, and armed robbery in 2016.
After homicide, the crimes of greatest concern in Caracas are kidnapping and robbery, including carjacking, street robbery, and home invasions. Kidnappings and robberies often become homicides, as victims who resist are routinely killed. It is generally advised to not resist attempted robberies or kidnappings, as doing so can result in severe injury or death.
Robberies, particularly street robberies, are known to occur throughout Caracas. Armed criminals target pedestrians (standing or walking along the side of a road) and motorists (parked or stopped in traffic). Often, criminals operate from a motorcycle, pulling up alongside their victim while brandishing a firearm and demanding valuables. Robberies (and scams) continue to occur at public ATMs. ATMs inside hotels and banks are considered safer, as is withdrawing money from inside a bank via a teller. However, there have been several reported incidents involving victims who were robbed, and sometimes subsequently killed, after making large withdrawals while still inside banks. This suggests close surveillance of banks and/or possibly complicit bank employees. Robberies at banks and ATMs are increasingly common during the holiday season.
Pickpockets and grab artists operate throughout the greater Caracas metropolitan area but are especially active at busy bus and metro terminals and in the historic downtown city center, in the areas of Plaza Simón Bolívar, the Capitólio, the Sabana Grande neighborhood, and Parque Los Caobos.
Carjackings remain a serious concern. According to the Venezuelan non-governmental organization Observatorio Venezolano del Delito Organizado, approximately 175 cars were stolen per day nationwide in 2016. Caracas accounts for a large percentage of the total number of complaints. Carjackings are most likely to occur during evening and nighttime hours, and increasingly involve newer SUVs, especially with four-wheel drive. Carjacking victims have included business executives and foreign diplomats in Caracas, though in 2016 no U.S. diplomats were victims of carjacking.
Home invasions continued to occur routinely in Caracas in 2016. Home invaders primarily used one of two tactics.
- An individual or small group targets an abode, convincing the doorman (vigilante), maid, and/or resident that they are performing some service (home goods delivery, a telephone installation). Once inside the home, the criminals brandish weapons, threaten the occupants, and steal valuables. This tactic sometimes involves an insider who tips off the criminals to the presence of valuables and/or helps them to scam their way into the home.
- The second tactic involves groups of heavily armed criminals forcing their way into an abode. This approach can be carried out by threatening the doorman, accosting the victim as s/he waits to enter the building, or “piggy backing” behind the victim (following close behind as the victim drives into his/her protected garage or parking area).
Home invasions are often accompanied by gratuitous violence. Victims appear to be selected because of their perceived wealth, either from the home or neighborhood where they live or the car they drive. The Embassy advises that all family members, domestic staff, and doormen be instructed not to open doors or accept deliveries from unknown/unexpected strangers. The Embassy also recommends that all houses and apartments have a working alarm system, bars on windows, and solid external doors with a deadbolt-type lock. There is no evidence to indicate criminals are specifically targeting U.S. citizens.
Where possible, vary daily departure times/routes. Avoid setting a regular pattern that can be used against you.
Use extreme caution when using international credit cards. Credit card fraud has been reported even at respected local restaurants and major hotel chains in Caracas.
Other Areas of Concern
In 2015, the land border between Colombia and Venezuela was closed due to alleged political and security disputes. Brief periods of controlled openings along the border with Colombia occurred in 2016 that resulted in thousands of Venezuelan national pedestrians crossing into Colombia to search for food. Due to security concerns, continued FARC and ELN activity, and the presence of fuel smugglers/organized criminal groups along the border, Embassy employees are prohibited from traveling within 50 miles of the Venezuelan-Colombian border without prior Chief of Mission authorization. In late 2016, the border with Brazil was also closed. Borders with Brazil and Colombia remain closed to all but limited foot traffic.
The Embassy prohibits American employees from traveling to certain neighborhoods (barrios) without special permission, including Petare, 23 de Enero, and Las Minas. These neighborhoods are some of the highest crime areas of the city, and law enforcement is known to patrol these areas with less frequency. Because of safety and security concerns, the following neighborhoods of Caracas are off-limits to American employees of the Embassy unless they have special permission:
- In the western part of Libertador municipality: El Retiro, 23 de Enero, Blandin, La Vega, La Rinconada, Las Mayas, Tazon, Oropeza Castillo, Lomas de Urdaneta, Propatria, Casalta, Lomas de Propatria, Carapita, Antimano, Tacagua, Ruiz Pineda, Caricuao, La Quebradita, El Atlantico, Sarria, La Candelaria, San Martin, Coche, El Valle and La Yaguara.
- In the Eastern part of Sucre municipality: Barrio Piritu, Barrio La Rubia, Barrio Altavista, Petare, Caucaguita, La Dolorita, Paulo Sexto, and El Llanito.
- In Baruta municipality: Las Minas, Santa Cruz del Este, Ojo de Agua, La Naya, and Las Minitas.
Road Safety and Road Conditions
Driving regulations are similar to those in the U.S., although drivers seldom obey them. Defensive driving is an absolute necessity. It is common practice to ignore red traffic lights, especially after dark. Traffic in Caracas is heavy most of the day, as an abundance of vehicles running on heavily subsidized gasoline (ten gallons cost less than U.S.$0.25) continue to fill aging infrastructure beyond capacity. Such overuse produces wear-and-tear on roads that authorities are often slow to fix. Road damage is often marked with a pile of rocks over a pothole or a stick protruding from an uncovered manhole. Traffic fatalities remain a common occurrence, given the poor state of the roads and local aggressive/reckless driving habits.
Venezuelan traffic law mandates that individuals involved in a traffic accident not move their vehicles until the traffic police arrive. Due to the lack of availability, police can take several hours to arrive, and those involved in the accident have been known to negotiate a settlement among themselves or simply leave the scene rather than wait for the police to arrive. Nonetheless, it is strongly recommended that people involved in an accident remain at the scene unless they feel their life may be in danger.
Motorcyclists frequently weave in/out of lanes, pass on either side, drive between the lanes on freeways, and drive into the oncoming lane to get around traffic congestion. Traffic accidents involving motorcycles are extremely common due to the reckless manner in which they are operated and due to failure to use safety equipment. Occasionally, groups of motorcycle operators will congregate around the scene of an accident involving another motorcyclist. Depending on the severity and circumstances, these instances have the potential to escalate into a dangerous situation for the occupants of the other vehicle involved, even if they were not at fault.
Checkpoints are common, especially during inter-city trips. 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 identity document (cedula, passport). Police or guardsmen may search vehicles stopped at checkpoints.
Because roads are poorly maintained and roadside assistance in inter-city areas is extremely limited, travelers should ensure that their vehicle is in good working order before departing on a trip. Gas stations are occasionally without fuel or unexpectedly closed. Drivers should plan ahead and not permit the fuel tank to fall below half a tank. Drivers may want to consider bringing along extra fuel in case of emergency but should investigate its safe transport.
For these reasons and increased criminal activity after dark, the Embassy strongly advises against inter-city travel after dark. For more information on self-driving, please review OSAC’s Report “Driving Overseas: Best Practices.”
Venezuelans travel in large numbers before, during, and immediately after their major civil and religious holidays (Carnival, Easter, Christmas, New Year’s Day). Roads are more congested, and travelers should anticipate increased delays.
Where possible, drivers should park inside a residential compound, attended parking lot, or use valet parking. Where these options are not available, drivers should seek to park as close to their destination as possible. Keeping your vehicle within your line of sight should deter potential car thieves. The less time spent walking from a car to the destination, the less chance criminals will have to target the occupants. Keep valuables out of sight even when parked in ostensibly secure locations, as thieves have been known to enter protected parking garages and break into parked vehicles.
Public Transportation Conditions
Only use legitimate radio-dispatched taxis at designated taxi stands or have your hotel call a reputable taxi company directly. Most mall (centro commercial) taxis have also generally been reliable. Do not hail a taxi on the street.
Criminal activity at the Maiquetía Simón Bolívar International Airport is significant. Arriving and departing travelers have been victims of thefts and muggings. The Embassy has received credible reports that individuals in official uniforms or bearing realistic (or real) credentials have been involved in crimes. Travelers should be wary of all strangers, even those who represent themselves as airport officials. Travelers are also urged not to pack valuable items or documents in their checked bags. The Embassy has also received occasional reports of airport officials (or individuals representing themselves as airport officials) attempting to extort money from travelers as part of the check-in or boarding process for departing flights.
Drug traffickers use the Maiquetía airport as a transit point, and CICPC and ONA frequently arrest travelers attempting to smuggle illegal drugs. Travelers should not accept packages from anyone and should keep their luggage with them.
Transit to/from the airport is risky. Use of airport taxis is strongly discouraged, as a number of travelers in airport taxis have been robbed or kidnapped by taxi drivers and their accomplices. Travelers have even been robbed when taking a taxi between the international and domestic terminals. There have also been occasional instances of airport shuttles operated by local major hotels being robbed by armed individuals. The Embassy requires its U.S. direct hire employees to travel to/from the airport in an armored vehicle. Private travelers are encouraged to prearrange airport pickup or drop-off with reputable companies. When arriving, travelers should set up a meeting place inside the terminal where they can safely connect with their driver. The Embassy encourages travelers to arrive/depart during daylight hours when possible.
Pursuant to U.S. law, the Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) is required to conduct technical security visits to all international airports from which U.S. and foreign airlines provide direct service to the U.S. During its 2015 airport security assessment, TSA concluded that the three Venezuelan airports that are departure points for direct flights to the U.S. (Caracas, Barcelona, and Maracaibo) met recognized international safety standards. The next airport assessment is slated for August 2017. Passengers flying directly from Venezuela to the U.S. are required to pass through an additional security screening immediately before boarding.
Though the Venezuelan government continues to announce its desire to improve civil aviation, the sector remains deficient in many ways. The average age of its domestic fleet is 25 years, and there have been several aviation accidents in recent years. The majority of these accidents have resulted from equipment failures due to poor maintenance and unavailability of spare parts.
- In January 2017, a front tire on a Venezolana Airlines plane blew out during landing at Maiquetia airport; there were no injuries reported.
Many flights are either delayed or cancelled due to continuing failures of aircraft, thereby leaving passengers stranded for hours or days. Conviasa, an airline owned/operated by the government, was temporarily prohibited (2012-2013) from flying its aircraft to Madrid by the EU due to safety concerns. The government announced the goal of reducing the average age of the domestic fleet to 10 years, but the lack of availability of hard currency makes it difficult for airlines to purchase new planes.
Other Travel Conditions
U.S. citizens may be detained/deported by immigration officials for not complying with visa or immigration regulations. U.S. citizens must have a valid visa that is appropriate for their specific type of travel. Journalists must possess the appropriate accreditation and work visa from the authorities before arriving. International journalists are closely scrutinized and have been expelled/detained for lacking appropriate permissions to work in Venezuela or for participation in what could be seen as anti-government activity, including observing and reporting on public health facilities.
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED CARACAS AS BEING A MEDIUM-THREAT LOCATION FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITY DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns
The Embassy is unaware of any large-scale terrorist attacks or actions recently carried out in Venezuelan territory. Prior reporting has indicated that Venezuela maintains a permissive environment that has allowed for support of activities that benefited known terrorist groups. While individuals linked to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA), and Hezbollah supporters and sympathizers were present, Americans in country are not believed to be targets of these groups.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED CARACAS AS BEING A HIGH-THREAT LOCATION FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
The government of Venezuela's erosion of human rights guarantees, persecution of political opponents, curtailment of press freedoms, use of violence, human rights violations/abuses in response to antigovernment protests, arbitrary arrest/detention of antigovernment protestors, economic mismanagement, and the exacerbating presence of significant government corruption have all created a national crisis.
Civil disruptions are common in Venezuela, particularly in Caracas. Demonstrations tend to occur at/near university campuses or gathering places (public squares, plazas). In Caracas, the occasional unscheduled march through a busy thoroughfare causes major traffic disruptions and can bring traffic to a near standstill. Candidates for political offices called supporters to marches and public gatherings during the most recent national and municipal elections. Travelers are advised to take extreme caution and avoid large gatherings and demonstrations wherever they occur.
Venezuela experiences protests and work stoppages by unions across both the public and private sectors. In 2016, a high number of demonstrations occurred by groups protesting working conditions, criminality, and lack of public services.
One major area of concern is the continued prominence of pro-government gang-militias (colectivos). These colectivos (La Piedrita, Los Tupamaros, Alexis Vive) self-identify as socialist, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, and Chavista. They are well-armed and have expressed a willingness to use their arms to defend Chavismo, although it is not always clear what they identify as the threats facing Chavismo or how they would seek to defeat the threats. During elections in recent years, media outlets reported incidents where pro-Chavista gangsters on motorcycles (motorizado) would surround voting centers in opposition-leaning neighborhoods to intimidate voters. Clashes between these groups and local law enforcement are rare.
- In October 2014, a major gun battle erupted between colectivos and police officials in downtown Caracas when police attempted to arrest a principle leader of the group. A gun battle resulted in the killing of one of the prominent leaders, after which the colectivos called for the arrest of the police for improper arrest procedures. In addition, during the course of the incident, the colectivos took two police officers as hostages.
There are occasional reports of violence against Venezuela’s small indigenous population, but they are sporadic and unsystematic.
Venezuela is prone to earthquakes and landslides. Though small seismic readings have been registered recently, a 6.3 earthquake occurred near Caracas in September 2009 that injured 14 people and damaged many buildings. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many of the buildings in Caracas lack the necessary reinforcements to withstand a serious earthquake. Also, an earthquake would likely cause widespread damage to Venezuela’s poorly maintained infrastructure. A medium to large-scale earthquake would likely overwhelm local emergency response services.
Landslides are common during and following major rainstorms. Although there has not been a major landslide tragedy since December 1999, landslides continue to kill, and the unrestricted and uncontrolled nature of development in some parts of the country seems likely to exacerbate the risk.
Information about earthquakes, landslides, and other natural disasters can be found on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website.
In general, Venezuelan infrastructure has suffered years of neglect and is deteriorating across the country. Caracas sees its share of industrial and transportation-related accidents. Although vehicle accidents involving the transportation of hazardous chemicals are rare, when they occur, roadways can be shut down for significant periods while cleanup takes place. Because of the mountainous terrain, tunnels are an essential way to navigate Caracas. When accidents occur inside these tunnels, the flow of traffic can be blocked or severely restricted for hours.
Bridges occasionally collapse, and roads sometimes crumble or are washed away, creating major traffic disturbances in the affected region. A frequently used bridge collapsed in the La Guiara area, temporarily cutting off one commonly-used road to and from Caracas.
The World Economic Forum’s World Competitiveness Report 2016-2017 ranked Venezuela last out of 138 countries in intellectual property protection.
Venezuela remained on the Priority Watch List in the U.S. Trade Representative’s 2016 Special 301 Report. Key concerns cited in the report include questions about the consistency of domestic laws and international obligations resulting from the 2008 reinstatement of the 1955 Industrial Property Law; the status of trademarks that were registered under the Andean Community law prior to Venezuela’s withdrawal from the Andean Community; and lack of enforcement against physical and online counterfeiting and piracy. Intellectual property rights (IPR) protection remains hindered by the lack of adequate resources for the Venezuelan copyright and trademark enforcement police (COMANPI) and for the special IPR prosecutor's office. Because of a shortage of personnel, limited budget, and inadequate storage facilities for seized goods, COMANPI has had to work with the Bolivarian National Guard and private industry to enforce copyright laws. COMANPI can only act based on a complaint by a copyright holder; it cannot carry out an arrest or seizure on its own initiative. In the past, the Venezuelan government’s tax authority (SENIAT) has been more successful at enforcing IPR laws. It has taken action against some businesses importing or selling pirated goods based on presumed tax evasion. While SENIAT actions have decreased over the past few years, SENIAT does continue to take action against pirated goods. Copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting remain widespread, however, including piracy over the Internet. Pirated software, music, and movies are also readily available.
The Embassy is unaware of any confirmed cases of industrial espionage in Venezuela.
The constitution provides for the inviolability of the home and personal privacy, but government authorities increasingly infringe on citizens’ privacy rights by searching homes without judicial authorization, seizing properties without due process, or interfering in personal communications.
The continued presence of the ELN and FARC between Venezuela and Colombia continues to be a serious concern. Along with kidnapping and smuggling operations, both groups use the drug trade to finance their operations. Groups not affiliated with the FARC or ELN also engage in drug trafficking and other illicit activities. Lack of international counternarcotic cooperation in Venezuela and a shift in regional trafficking patterns has made Venezuela one of the biggest drug-transit countries in the region. There is evidence of involvement in the drug trade by some high-level Venezuelan government officials.
- In November 2015, two Venezuelan citizens, later identified as nephews of the Venezuelan First Lady, were extradited to the U.S. and convicted in November 2016 of conspiring to smuggle more than 800 kilograms of cocaine to the U.S.
Although the press regularly reports seizures by Venezuelan law enforcement, large quantities of illicit drugs continue to flow through Venezuela to markets in the U.S. and Europe.
Kidnapping remains a major criminal industry. Kidnappings in Caracas happen primarily during the nighttime hours but are not uncommon during the day. The Venezuelan government officially does not track total kidnappings, but it is believed that kidnapping cases remained constant during 2016, as with 2015. Criminologists continue to report that 80% or more of kidnappings go unreported to officials for fear of retaliation by kidnappers and include “express kidnappings” and traditional kidnappings for ransom. Investigations by the Criminal, Penal, and Scientific Investigation Bureau (CICPC) have identified multiple heavily-armed criminal gangs specializing in express kidnappings that operate in the wealthier neighborhoods of Caracas. CICPC’s specialized unit aimed at combating kidnapping has had limited successes but has failed to reduce significantly the number of kidnapping incidents. Kidnappers continue to operate with little fear of arrest, prosecution, or incarceration. Police officers and security officials are often implicated in acts of kidnapping and other crimes.
A majority of kidnappings are “express kidnappings” that usually last less than 48 hours (sometimes as short as two hours). Victims have been driven around by their kidnappers and forced to withdraw various amounts of cash from multiple ATMs until the accounts balances were zero or the card was locked by the bank. However, changes in Venezuelan law and banking practices have restricted daily withdrawal amounts, making the old practice less lucrative. In recent years, it has become more common for kidnappers to drive their victims around for several hours, disorienting the victim and giving the victim’s family/friends time to gather a ransom payment. Paying a ransom is against Venezuelan law.
Kidnappings frequently occur in front of victims’ homes, while they are leaving hotels, when using unauthorized taxis from Maiquetía “Simón Bolívar” International Airport, and when walking in wealthier areas with limited vehicle and foot traffic.
The Embassy also has had reports of virtual and inside kidnappings. Virtual kidnappings occur when family and/or friends are persuaded to a pay a ransom by scammers using information about a “victim” whom they have supposedly kidnapped. Inside kidnappings occur when an insider, usually a domestic employee, is paid or promised a share of the proceeds in exchange for keys or information to facilitate a kidnapping.
Police attempt to patrol most of Caracas but are unable to provide coverage to deter violent crime, especially at night and in poorer areas. While investigative follow-up is intermittent and perpetrators of crimes are rarely caught, the police will generally respond to ongoing emergency situations. Police often do not arrive until many hours after a call to crime scenes and traffic accidents.
Corruption, inadequate police training/equipment, insufficient central government funding, and rapidly deteriorating economic conditions dramatically reduce the effectiveness of the security forces. Media reports often identify police abuse and involvement in crimes, including illegal/arbitrary detentions, extrajudicial killings, kidnappings, and excessive use of force.
Venezuelan government officials have proposed increasing the budget for the military and local police to combat the rapidly rising crime rate. Government critics remain wary that it can deliver on the promise to better fund the military and police, especially in a time when the national economy continues to undergo rapid inflation and an inability to secure foreign currency in order to import goods.
How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment
Harassment of U.S. citizens by Venezuelan airport authorities and some segments of the police is limited but does occur. Any incident should be reported to American Citizen Services (ACS) Unit at the U.S. Embassy, which can be reached at +58 (212) 907-8365 or by e-mail.
Crime Victim Assistance
If you are the victim of a crime, contact local police at 911. These calls will not be answered by English speakers; Venezuela’s national language is Spanish.
The Bolivarian National Police (PNB) answers to the Ministry of Popular Power for Interior, Justice and Peace and is responsible for general crime prevention and patrolling around government buildings and diplomatic facilities. Although a national police force, the PNB only operates in a few cities across six states in Venezuela: Anzoátegui, Aragua, Carabobo, Lara, Táchira, and Zulia. Where it operates, the PNB is the first responder for major demonstrations and riots, as well as being responsible for traffic safety and patrolling major roads and highways in the country. The government plans to increase the size of the PNB so that it can operate across the country, but there is no clear timeline for the proposed expansion.
The Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) is part of the Venezuelan armed forces and reports to the Ministry of Popular Power for Defense. They provide support for drug investigations and anti-drug operations while also providing security at borders, ports, and airports.
Cuerpo de Investigaciones Científicas, Penales y Criminalísticas (CICPC) is part of the Ministry Interior, Justice and Peace. As the main national investigative body, CICPC is roughly equivalent to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is responsible for investigating most crimes (property crimes, violent crimes, fraud, kidnapping). CICPC has specialized units, similar to SWAT, responsible for dangerous arrests and hostage situations. It also serves as Venezuela’s representative to INTERPOL.
SEBIN (Bolivarian National Intelligence Service or Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional) serves as a counter-intelligence force, investigating crimes against the government and providing protective details for government officials. SEBIN has specialized tactical units, as well as an explosive ordinance disposal capability. SEBIN also serves as the government’s civilian intelligence and counterintelligence agency.
The National Antidrug Office (ONA) reports to the Ministry of Popular Power for Interior, Justice and Peace and provides counter-narcotics intelligence and analysis support to various other Venezuelan law enforcement agencies. It also supports drug rehabilitation centers and coordinates the government’s anti-drug campaign.
There are many U.S.-trained and/or English-speaking physicians available. However, staff often does not speak English. The medical infrastructure is quickly deteriorating, and as public facilities fail, private clinics have become severely overtaxed and crowded. Getting in to see a physician can be a trying experience and often requires a minimum of several hours in a waiting room. Medical supplies are strictly controlled by the government; medicines and medical equipment availability at local facilities is unpredictable at best and completely absent at worst.
Contact Information for Available Medical Services
Private clinics/hospitals are the only facilities recommended to be used by U.S. government personnel.
Urológico San Roman
Calle Chivacoa, Sección San Roman
Telephone: +58 (212) 993-0134; +58 (212) 999-0111; +58 (212) 992-2222
Centro Médico Docente La Trinidad
Av. Intercomunal La Trinidad
Telephone: +58 (212) 949-6411; +58 (212) 945-3122; +58 (212) 949-6444
Policlínica Las Mercedes
Av. Ppal. de Las Mercedes Con Cl. Monterrey, Caracas,
Telephone: +58 (212) 993-2911
Clinica El Ávila
Av. San Juan Bosco and 6ta. Transversa
Telephone: +58 (212) 276-1111 and 276-1052
Instituto Médico La Floresta
Av. Principal de la Floresta and Calle Santa Ana
Telephone: +58 (212) 209-6222
Hospital de Clínicas Caracas
Av. Panteon and Av. Alameda
Telephone: +58 (212) 508-6111
Centro Médico de Caracas
Av. Eraso, Plaza el Estanque
Telephone: +58 (212) 555-9111
Available Air Ambulance Services
Av. Libertador, Edf. 75 Ofic. PH-2B
Telephone: +58 (212) 761-6998
Av. Venezuela, Edf. EXA, PB Local 17
Telephone: +58 (212) 953-1195
Telephone: +58 (212) 731-0930; +58 (414) 183-9519; +58 (416) 805-0150; +58 (412) 024-2845
Av. Orionoco and Calle Mucuchies Centro Médico
Telephone: +58 (212) 992-3665
Telephone: +58 (212) 610-0000
Telephone: +58 (212) 944-2357 and 171
Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance
The CDC recommends that travelers to Venezuela ensure they have the following up-to-date vaccinations at least 4 weeks before traveling to Venezuela. This includes: measles/mumps/rubella (MMR); diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT); polio; hepatitis A and B; typhoid; rabies; and yellow fever (only for travelers over nine months of age. See CDC’s website for more information)
Travelers should also be aware that dengue fever and malaria are endemic in some parts of Venezuela. In 2016, there were also outbreaks of chikungunya and zika reported throughout Venezuela. All are transmitted through mosquito bites. Travelers to malaria-prone regions will want to procure antimalarial drugs before arriving. In the case of dengue, malaria, zika, and chikungunya the most effective protective measures are those that prevent mosquito bites.
The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Venezuela.
OSAC Country Council Information
The Caracas Country Council currently meets on a monthly basis a year and has approximately 58 members. Please contact OSAC’s Western Hemisphere with any questions or to join.
U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information
Embassy Address and Hours of Operation
Calle F and Calle Suapure
Urbanización Colinas de Valle Arriba
Baruta, Miranda, Venezuela
The Embassy is open Mon-Fri, 0800-1700, except for Venezuelan and American holidays
Embassy Contact Numbers
Regional Security Office (RSO): +58 (212) 907-8403
Embassy Operator: +58 (212) 975-6411
ACS: +58 (212) 907-8365
Marine Post One: +58 (212) 907-8400
The after-hours Embassy Duty Officer can be reached by calling Marine Post One.
Venezuela Country Information Sheet