U.S. Embassy Warns of Political Disturbances in Venezuela

The US Embassy in Venezuela yesterday released a statement warning its citizens resident in the South American country to stockpile food in case of major political disturbances following the presidential elections on December 3.

Caracas, November 29, 2006 (venezuelanalysis.com)—The US Embassy in Venezuelayesterday released a statement warning its citizens resident in the SouthAmerican country to stockpile food in case of major political disturbancesfollowing the presidential elections on December 3. The embassy qualified the warning by sayingthere was no evidence that any disturbances had been planned.

The main bulk of thestatement read as follows, “In light of recent history of street disturbancesoccasioned by political activity, and current levels of anti-U.S. Governmentsentiment on the part of the Venezuelan Government, American citizens inVenezuela should maintain a high level of personal security awareness, especiallyduring the election period,” it goes on, “Common sense measures include, amongother things, avoiding large gatherings and other public events wheredisturbances could occur, and monitoring local developments and media reports.The Embassy specifically recommends that American citizens resident inVenezuela defer local travel on election day and maintain a few days’ supply offood, water, and medications at home for election day and the immediatepost-election period.”

There are often fearsof trouble after the elections but they are usually unfounded. There were widespread fears that there wouldbe serious civil unrest after the recall referendum of 2004 but these didn’t occur.

The last time there were major disturbances was in March 2004, when oppositiongroups organized week-long street blockades and clashes with the police, knownas “Guarimba,” in order to pressure the government and the National Electoral Councilinto accepting a petition for a recall referendum. While the referendum waseventually announced several months later, it was widely recognized that the disturbances hadnothing to do with the decision and that they alienated many oppositionsupporters from the opposition leadership.