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Ideas how to maximize learning and minimize risk for a visit to Venezuela?

SDET

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I'm considering a visit to Venezuela to learn about the situation there first hand. Obviously, I don't want a "government sponsored" guided tour. On the other extreme, I don't have a death wish. I was thinking of entering at the Brazilian border and going to the town of Santa Elena de Uairen. If things don't look too dangerous, get on a bus on Route 10, being observant, until Ciudad Guayana, where the national crisis has hit full force. I suspect Santa Elena isn't representative because it can be fully supplied from Brazil, albeit at exorbitant prices for a Venezuelan, more than likely with non-regulated items. The thought is to take a "look, don't touch" mentality and learn as much about the crisis as possible, truth, not government propaganda. That includes being prepared to demonstrate that my reason for being there is to learn, not interfere (as tempting as that may be).
 

Carjosse

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Keep any US currency well hidden, I would imagine someone trying to kill you for it would not be too unlikely in certain areas. Although that is probably how you will have to buy things no matter where you are. Check in with the US embassy in Venezuela and any consulate so the US government knows where you are. I do not know if the US has any arrangements with other countries like Canada does with the UK where you can get consular services at a British embassy in an emergency but if the US does know where those embassies and consulates are as well.
 
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Rogue Valley

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It seems you require the services of an individual known in the jargon as a 'fixer'

World Fixer
 

Gaugingcatenate

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I'm considering a visit to Venezuela to learn about the situation there first hand. Obviously, I don't want a "government sponsored" guided tour. On the other extreme, I don't have a death wish. I was thinking of entering at the Brazilian border and going to the town of Santa Elena de Uairen. If things don't look too dangerous, get on a bus on Route 10, being observant, until Ciudad Guayana, where the national crisis has hit full force. I suspect Santa Elena isn't representative because it can be fully supplied from Brazil, albeit at exorbitant prices for a Venezuelan, more than likely with non-regulated items. The thought is to take a "look, don't touch" mentality and learn as much about the crisis as possible, truth, not government propaganda. That includes being prepared to demonstrate that my reason for being there is to learn, not interfere (as tempting as that may be).
Just so happens there is a very pretty young lady that has invited me to her city of Guayanas in Venezuela... and despite the fact that she seems exactly what I want in life... well, like you I value my life and so have decided not to go. Would rather she come here to Panama where the situation is very stable and non threatening to we from the USA.

If I was going in a group and knew I could be armed, maybe I would make the journey, as all life is a risk and I have taken such risks when I was younger and survived just fine. Being a redhead I was an easily identifiable target almost anywhere out of the Western world I chose to go... now that I am older I am still easily identifiable and more of a target with age, so am not gonna chance it.

But I too am interested and know I cannot trust modern media to tell me the real story. I made a similar trip in the past to Nicaragua like you, to find out for myself what the actual situation was.

As an aside: Had I listened to media, family and friends I would hardly ever have gone much of any place... so good luck whichever decision you make.
 

Chomsky

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Just so happens there is a very pretty young lady that has invited me to her city of Guayanas in Venezuela... and despite the fact that she seems exactly what I want in life... well, like you I value my life and so have decided not to go. Would rather she come here to Panama where the situation is very stable and non threatening to we from the USA.

If I was going in a group and knew I could be armed, maybe I would make the journey, as all life is a risk and I have taken such risks when I was younger and survived just fine. Being a redhead I was an easily identifiable target almost anywhere out of the Western world I chose to go... now that I am older I am still easily identifiable and more of a target with age, so am not gonna chance it.

But I too am interested and know I cannot trust modern media to tell me the real story. I made a similar trip in the past to Nicaragua like you, to find out for myself what the actual situation was.

As an aside: Had I listened to media, family and friends I would hardly ever have gone much of any place... so good luck whichever decision you make.
Amen to that!

That's why I'm seriously looking at Cuba ...
 

Goshin

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1. Don't go.
 

SDET

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Amen to that!

That's why I'm seriously looking at Cuba ...

Cuba is no big deal, just know where the dividing line is between being deported versus incarcerated. Saying the Castro brothers are dictators might get you deported, distributing literature obtained from the Cuba Libre movement would get you incarcerated. If you really want to "poke the grizzly bear", the following would fit the (hand)bill.

CubaYoNobig.jpg
 

SDET

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Amen to that!

That's why I'm seriously looking at Cuba ...

Cuba by the way is not a dangerous place. If you make any effort at all not to tick off the government, you have almost nothing to worry about. If I can say nothing else good about the Castro brothers, they take tourist security very seriously. Attacking a tourist is very severely punished.
 

Chomsky

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Cuba is no big deal, just know where the dividing line is between being deported versus incarcerated. Saying the Castro brothers are dictators might get you deported, distributing literature obtained from the Cuba Libre movement would get you incarcerated. If you really want to "poke the grizzly bear", the following would fit the (hand)bill.

<snip>
I'm not really thinking danger with Cuba, but at getting there before the corps, banks, hotels, and tourists Americanize the damn place! :doh
 

Red_Dave

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Keep any US currency well hidden, I would imagine someone trying to kill you for it would not be too unlikely in certain areas. Although that is probably how you will have to buy things no matter where you are. Check in with the US embassy in Venezuela and any consulate so the US government knows where you are. I do not know if the US has any arrangements with other countries like Canada does with the UK where you can get consular services at a British embassy in an emergency but if the US does know where those embassies and consulates are as well.

Actually the US still has both consulates and an embassy in Venezuela https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/venezuela.html the rest of the page is worth looking at also. I never go anywhere without checking the FCO's (our equivilent of the state department) advice first.
 
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Carjosse

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Actually the US still has both consulates and an embassy in Venezuela https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/venezuela.html the rest of the page is worth looking at also. I never go anywhere without checking the FCO's (our equivilent of the state department) advice first.

I knew that. I was talking about Canada's and any other commonwealth nation's arrangement with the UK. For example if a Canadian embassy does not exist in the country or I am unable to reach the Canadian embassy I can get consular services from the UK embassy. I do not know if the US has similar arrangements.
 

Patrickt

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In 2006 we had political problems in Oaxaca, Mexico, where I live. The governor left, we saw no police downtown for six months, and the tourists we got were from the tour company Revolutions-R-Us from California. They brought people to "experience" the revolution first hand for three days. They saw what they wanted to see, role played as revolutionaries, and then ran home before they got hurt.

If you want to know what it's like, stay home till you run out of food, toilet paper, soap, and diapers and get really hungry. Welcome to Venezuela. Go to the MVD office and stand in lines from before they open until the lock the doors. Welcome to Venezuela. Take all of your vacation time and then spend it doing manual labor for your neighbor. Welcome to Venezuela.

When people ask if it's safe to visit Oaxaca, even in 2006, I respond that if you're not involved in politics, not involved with drugs, not involved with someone else's spouse it is as safe as Chicago or Detroit and probably safer than Memphis. My opinion is the streets are safer here, especially for foreigners. No one is running up behind old people and trying to knock them out with one punch for giggles. No one is pushing people in front of buses because they feel like it.

Whatever you do, don't get drunk. If you just have to get drunk, do it in your hotel room and have a sober person to see that you don't leave. Don't walk around wearing $5,000 worth of jewelry so everyone knows you're special. Be careful taking pictures. Some thugs don't want their pictures taken and some of the decent people are embarrassed at what's happened to what was a good place to live.

When I first got to Oaxaca, I made copies of my visa and passport and carried those with me, leaving the actual documents in a safe place. No one ever asked me for papers so I gradually quit carrying anything. I have been stopped at military and police roadblocks and I answer the questions politely and honestly. Of course, if I were here "for the revolution" I'd lie. In 2006, a high percentage of the foreigners showing up were anarchists with a $100 camera and a card from Narco News or something saying they were journalists. Since they were throwing rocks and firebombs journalists got a bad name. So, if you're going to pretend to be a journalist be sure and get counterfeit documents for the NYT or WashPo.
 
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Red_Dave

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I knew that. I was talking about Canada's and any other commonwealth nation's arrangement with the UK. For example if a Canadian embassy does not exist in the country or I am unable to reach the Canadian embassy I can get consular services from the UK embassy. I do not know if the US has similar arrangements.

Why would it need them if it has its own?

BTW ´Vice media´ have some very good stuff on youtube about the present day situation in Venezuela. Worth a look if you are considering going down there or want an ´´on the ground´´ perspective
 
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RetiredUSN

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I'm considering a visit to Venezuela to learn about the situation there first hand. Obviously, I don't want a "government sponsored" guided tour. On the other extreme, I don't have a death wish. I was thinking of entering at the Brazilian border and going to the town of Santa Elena de Uairen. If things don't look too dangerous, get on a bus on Route 10, being observant, until Ciudad Guayana, where the national crisis has hit full force. I suspect Santa Elena isn't representative because it can be fully supplied from Brazil, albeit at exorbitant prices for a Venezuelan, more than likely with non-regulated items. The thought is to take a "look, don't touch" mentality and learn as much about the crisis as possible, truth, not government propaganda. That includes being prepared to demonstrate that my reason for being there is to learn, not interfere (as tempting as that may be).

You don't need to visit Venezuela to learn anything first hand. It was a freaking crap hole when it was doing ok. The slums are always 2-3 blocks away from every city center and they are to be avoided at night. The folks in the countryside are very nice, and most welcoming without putting their hands in your back pockets.

I have ported in Puerto Cabello, Puerto La Cruze, Maiqautia, Cumana, and have visited Valencia & Caracas many times.
 

SDET

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As you all can see, I opted for Cuba instead of Venezuela to get an in depth view of what life in a Communist country is really like. Venezuela is just too dangerous.
 
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