Canadians warned to avoid all travel to Venezuela amid violence and unrest

The Government of Canada is warning Canadians to avoid all travel to Venezuela due to the country’s significant level of violent crime.

Global Affairs Canada notes that unstable political and economic situations have led to a decline in the country’s basic living conditions, with “shortages of medication, food staples, gasoline and water.”

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Venezuela has been on a nationwide state of emergency since Jan. 15, 2016.

The travel alert, issued Feb. 5, 2019, comes amid a struggle for power in the country.

Canada and Latin American allies in the Lima Group, along with the United States, have been pushing Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela's socialist president, to step down. 

The Canadian government has backed opposition leader Juan Guaido, the head of Venezuela's legislature, as the legitimate interim leader of the country.

On Monday European countries including Spain, Germany, France, Britain, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands and Lithuania added their voices calling for free and fair elections as soon as possible.

The travel alert says the country has one of the highest homicide rates in the world, and that organized crime is rampant. “Violence against locals and visitors alike can occur in both urban and rural areas, including in those popular with tourists,” it says.

Street crime is also common in the country, and it often becomes violent, it says. Even the airports are described as dangerous, as violent crime takes place inside the facilities as well as the surrounding areas.

The department said it issues an “avoid all travel advisory” only when it determines that there is an “extreme risk" to personal safety and security.

“You should not travel to this country, territory or region," the advisory says. "If you are already in the country, territory or region, you should consider leaving if it is safe to do so.”

The Government of Canada also recently warned travellers that they should avoid all ‘non-essential travel’ to parts of Mexico.

In addition, it has determined that travellers ought to exercise a high degree of caution in China. And, while it isn’t advising residents avoid travel to the country altogether, it has identified safety and security concerns.

— With a file from The Canadian Press

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