US Embassy Caracas Updates Staff Policy Due to “Recent Kidnapping of Embassy Personnel”

Posted: 3:06 am ET
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On September 25, the U.S. Embassy in Caracas issued a Security Message updating its policy on embassy staff and family members’ movements in Caracas and elsewhere in Venezuela:

The U.S. Embassy in Caracas informs all U.S. citizens in Venezuela that the policy regarding the movements of U.S. citizen diplomats and their family members in Caracas and elsewhere in Venezuela has been updated.  As always, the Embassy encourages all U.S. citizens living in and traveling through Venezuela to remain vigilant at all times and to practice good personal security.

Effective immediately, Calle A (through La Alameda neighborhood, the intersection of Calle B/Calle A to the Centro Commercial Santa Fe)is ano travel zonefrom “dusk to dawn” daily for all diplomatic personnel until further notice.

Travel in groups is highly recommended.  Travel outside the Embassy’s housing area by U.S. diplomats between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. must be conducted in armored vehicles or in groups utilizing at least two vehicles.  Group travel may be conducted with unarmored vehicles.

This decision was made due to increased concerns surrounding the recent kidnapping of Embassy personnel traveling in a diplomatic-plated vehicle on this road and other incidents.  This policy is subject to review in 30 days.

Makes one wonder if these kidnappings are now specifically targeted against embassy personnel.

Diplomatic Security’s Venezuela 2017 Crime & Safety Report issued in back in February is excerpted below:

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.
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.

Read the full report here.


US Embassy Nigeria Restricts Movement of American Personnel

On June 23, the US Embassy in Nigeria issued an emergency message to American citizens in Abuja regarding the restrictions of movement of official and diplomatic U.S. personnel:

In light of recent security warnings, continued states of emergency and curfews in the North, and the overnight (June 22/23) explosion of an IED planted by a tree in front of Hanan Plaza opposite Krystal Lounge in Abuja, all official and diplomatic American personnel are restricted from going to all commercial establishments, including restaurants, grocery stores, bars, shopping malls, place of worship, and places of social gatherings.  All such personnel are also restricted from movement in the evening hours. These restrictions will remain in effect until Monday June 25th, 2012, at which time the Embassy will reevaluate the situation.

All American citizens are reminded that this year, extremists have attacked many targets, killing and injuring hundreds of people.  They have targeted churches, mosques, media houses, police stations, immigration and customs offices, financial institutions, markets, state government offices, beer gardens, and nightclubs.  Attackers have also burned and destroyed several public and private schools in Borno and targeted several educational institutions in Kano and churches in Plateau, Bauchi, Kaduna, Niger, and Borno states.

Kidnapping is another common tactic extremists use to instill fear and promote extremist goals. In recent months three Western expatriates kidnapped earlier in the year were killed by extremists in the North. In addition, Nigerian security personnel in the Federal Capital Territory have been reassigned from crime prevention to other security- related assignments.

Domani Spero