IMPACT – MEDIUM
What is the change? Antigovernment protestors launched a two-day general strike ahead of Sunday’s scheduled vote to form a new constituent assembly. The strike has led to office and road closures. Traveling to Venezuela has also become more difficult as airlines continue to cut down on the number of flights to the country.
What does the change mean? All services are affected by the demonstrations, which have prompted widespread office and road closures, particularly in Caracas and other major cities. Processing times will likely be further delayed as offices face service and staffing reductions and demonstrators disrupting roads and public transportation. Travel to Venezuela may also be delayed.
- Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing. The government has moved to ban protests Friday and throughout the weekend, but it is not clear what effect the measures will have.
- Visas/permits affected: All visas, permits, and consular and diplomatic services.
- Who is affected: People in need of immigration services in. or traveling to, Venezuela.
- Impact on processing times: Processing times vary fairly dramatically, even in cases where applications are properly filed with all appropriate supporting documentation. Processing times are likely to face additional delays because of this week’s strike and related demonstrations.
- Business impact: Businesses may need to adjust start dates and timelines.
Background: Antigovernment demonstrators have been protesting President Nicolás Maduro’s government since April. Demonstrations have ramped up since last week as a vote that critics say will give Maduro more power approaches. Demonstrators began a 48-hour general strike Wednesday, and planned to continue protesting Friday.
Processing times, which were already inconsistent, are likely to be further delayed and many services are not available at all. This includes services at a number of foreign embassies and consulates The U.S. Embassy in Venezuela, for example, said its consular section would be open during the 48-hour period only for emergency services. Visa appointments are being rescheduled. The embassy also said it “strongly cautions all U.S. citizens to avoid protest areas, as even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can escalate into violence.”
Flights to Venezuela have been significantly cut back. The Colombian airline Avianca said Wednesday that it is halting service to Venezuela because of security concerns. Reuters reported that other airlines that have either suspended or reduced flights to Venezuela include United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Air Canada, Aeromexico and LATAM Airlines Group.
BAL Analysis: Foreign and Venezuelan nationals should prepare for the possibility of extensive delays in services. Foreign nationals may want to take personal safety measures and avoid demonstrations. The reduction in flights makes it more difficult to travel to Venezuela. Those with scheduled flights may wish to double-check with their airline about possible cancellations or delays before traveling.