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If you are headed to Los Roques anytime soon, you have probably already heard that the U.S. State Department has issued a new travel warning for Venezuela, effective November 22, 2013 (http://travel.state.gov /content/passports/english/alerts warnings/venezuela-travel-warning .html). Typical of travel warnings, it is scary in the extreme. Note the following language: “Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Venezuela each year for study, tourism, business, and volunteer work. However, violent crime in Venezuela is pervasive, both in the capital, Caracas, and in the interior. According to the nongovernmental organization Venezuelan Violence Observatory (VVO), there were 21,692 homicides in Venezuela in 2012, amounting to a rate of 73 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, among the highest in the world. In Caracas, the homicide rate is even higher at 122 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. Kidnappings are also a serious concern throughout the country. In 2012, 583 kidnappings were reported to the authorities. It is estimated that roughly 80 percent of kidnappings go unreported, meaning the actual number of kidnappings in 2012 is likely much higher. Common criminals are increasingly involved in kidnappings, either dealing with victims’ families directly or selling the victims to terrorist groups. In addition, there is cross-border violence, kidnappings, drug trafficking, and smuggling along Venezuela’s western border. The Department of State considers the criminal threat to U.S. government personnel in Venezuela sufficiently serious to require them to live and work under strict security restrictions. All U.S. direct-hire personnel and their families assigned to U.S. Embassy in Caracas are subject to an embassy movement policy for their safety and well-being.”
I could go on, but you get the picture. Venezuela is a dangerous place these days, and the downside of going there is magnified by the fact that the U.S. and Venezuela governments are not exactly friends. If you get in trouble there, this enmity would be sure to complicate your situation.
So, what is the relevance of this warning to your plans to go to Los Roques? Not much, frankly, unless something very out-of-the ordinary happens during your trip. Los Roques is a peaceful beach resort community in the Caribbean Sea about 80 miles north of Caracas. Typically, anglers arrive there by making a same-day connection through Simon Bolivar International Airport north of Caracas. Indeed, that is the way one should go to Los Roques, and the real importance of the new warning is that it provides an occasion to mention once again the importance of sticking to this way of doing things. Under no circumstances should one plan to spend the day in Caracas or even take a vigorous walk in the immediate environs of the airport. Stick with the plan given you by your agent and you should be fine.
Just be aware that there are possible hidden downsides to traveling to a country that has been redlined by the State Department. Some insurance policies – particularly so-called Key Man Insurance policies – are not valid when you travel to a redlined country, for example. And U.S. agents may be liable if something goes horribly wrong on a trip and they didn’t tell clients about a State Department warning. We also worry about it here at The Angling Report. Hence this note about the State Department’s new travel warning for Venezuela. Officially, that means we don’t recommend you go there. Unofficially, I can tell you that I would still go there myself, though. Fair enough? – Don Causey.