Cablegate: Country Clearance for Gary W. Dodson March 11-
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 CARACAS 000741
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OTRA APER VE MGMT
SUBJECT: COUNTRY CLEARANCE FOR GARY W. DODSON MARCH 11-
REF: STATE 42030
1. The Embassy grants country clearances for the visit
to Venezuela of Political Officer Gary W. Dodson from
March 11 through March 18, 2005 to provide support to
Embassy point of contact will be Political Officer
Charles Ridley. Address: Embassy of the United States,
Calle F con Calle Suapure, Colinas de Valle Arriba,
Caracas, Venezuela. Telephone numbers: Office 58-212-
975-8052. Cellphone: 0414-287-7415.
Embassy after-hours direct line for Marine security
guard is 58-212-907-8400.
Effective June 1, 2004, all personnel transferring to
an overseas location under Chief of Mission authority
must complete appropriate overseas personal security
training prior to their travel. Effective January 1,
2005, this same requirement will also apply to American
personnel requesting country clearance to perform
extended temporary duty (more than 30 days) at an
overseas location. You are required to provide
certification that the security training will be or has
been completed prior to arrival at post.
NO EMBASSY ASSISTANCE HAS BEEN REQUESTED.
All passengers who enter Venezuela on official travel
(including third country nationals) require a visa.
Travelers should not use tourist passports. DOD
personnel participating in GOV-approved deployments and
exercises, and arriving with military orders, are
exempt from the visa requirement.
Venezuelan immigration requires citizens of the United
States and certain other countries to have at least six
months validity remaining on their passports to enter
Venezuela. While this law has not been uniformly
enforced, some U.S. citizens have been denied entry.
Ensure your passport has at least six months validity
from the date of arrival to Venezuela.
State Department TDY Visitors requiring OpenNet-Plus
Systems access during their stay should inform the
control officer prior to their arrival. Visitors will
be required to attend a Systems Security briefing and
complete a Network Access Request Form.
Personnel who intend to bring U.S. Government portable
microcomputers (laptops) for use in CAA or non-CAA
areas must notify RSO in advance. Personal Electronic
Devices (PED), Personal Digital Assistants (PDA) e.g.
`Palm Pilots', MP-3 players, etc. are NOT authorized in
CAA spaces and are not authorized connectivity within
OpenNet unclassified or classified networks, or stand-
alone classified PCs.
2. The following pertains to transportation and
departures, exchange rate, security, medical
considerations, weather, and press. For additional
information, consult the Consular Information Sheet for
Venezuela, which can be found on the web at:
CURRENCY / EXCHANGE RATE
The exchange rate is USD 1 = 2150 Bolivares (Bs).
Visitors should bring a major credit card. Travelers
checks are not recommended as they are honored in only
a few locations. The Embassy suggests that travelers
try to obtain USD 50.00 in local currency (Bolivares)
before departing the airport. Should the airport
exchange facility be closed, it is possible to exchange
cash at major hotel chains in Caracas (personal checks
are not accepted).
There have been a number of armed robbery incidents
involving persons who have taken unlicensed "taxis"
from Maiquetia Airport. (Please read the Security
The Embassy has arranged for transportation. To meet
the driver, proceed to the Vargas Police sign near the
tourist information counter after picking up your
Italcambio is the travel contractor for the Embassy.
To call the Embassy if necessary, ask to use a
telephone at the Italcambio kiosk on the outer front
wall of the airport near the exit from the baggage
An airport user fee of Bs. 73,500 (approx. $39) is
levied at the airport upon departure for holders of
official and diplomatic passports. Holders of tourist
passports must pay the user fee plus an exit tax, for a
total of Bs. 102,900 (approximately $54). Payment of
both must be made in Bolivares.
At the Airport. Many drivers--often wearing badges
identifying them as "taxi officials"--have been known
to rob unwary travelers. If someone asks if you are
with the American Embassy: 1) do not give your name, 2)
ask for the name of the person he is seeking and
identification. Do not go with the person if he cannot
give you the information you request. Call the
Airport parking lot robberies are increasing. The
Embassy advises all persons to stay away from the
parking lots, except for the diplomatic lot located
close to the terminal.
General Crime. There is a significant level of common
street crime in certain areas of Caracas and other
major cities in Venezuela. These crimes are of the pick
pocketing, purse-snatching variety and visitors are
advised to be aware of their surroundings and to be
particularly alert in crowded areas. Jewelry items,
particularly gold-colored, attract the attention of
thieves and should be left in a safe place along with
If you are confronted in a robbery situation, the RSO
suggests that you comply with the criminals' demands.
Do not attempt to run or antagonize the perpetrator.
Most criminals only seek cash or jewelry items; many
will only resort to violence if you resist their
To avoid being the victim of a crime, visitors should
remain alert to their surroundings and maintain
constant control of purses, backpacks, briefcases and
Taxis within the city are plentiful and relatively
safe. However, the Embassy recommends the use of hotel
and radio dispatched taxis and group travel whenever
possible, especially after dark. Travelers should
carry only the minimum cash needed and, if possible, no
credit cards when venturing outside of the hotel.
Civil Disturbances. Travelers to Venezuela should be
aware of the potential for violent demonstrations,
especially in urban centers, and exercise appropriate
caution by standing well clear of public protests,
police lines and barricades.
If you rent a car, you must authorize it with the
proper authority at post.
Venezuela recommends that all travelers be vaccinated
prior to arrival. As Yellow Fever vaccine is difficult
to obtain in Venezuela, do not count on the Embassy to
provide a vaccination. In addition, the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs requires a Yellow Fever vaccination
certificate for travelers older than one year of age
arriving from various countries. Information about
vaccination requirements for travel to Venezuela may be
obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention's Internet site at
The water is considered contaminated. Drink only
bottled water or carbonated soft drinks and avoid ice
in drinks. Do not eat raw vegetables or fruits unless
they have been disinfected, peeled or cooked. Wash
your hands often with hot, soapy water.
Cases of dengue fever and malaria are reported
throughout Venezuela each year. Travelers planning to
spend time outdoors should bring insect repellent; wear
long trousers; and avoid wet areas. Symptoms include
fever, headaches, diarrhea and general malaise. While
rarely fatal, you should see a doctor if you experience
The Embassy does not make or guarantee payments to
medical providers on behalf of non-U.S. Government
employees. All individuals should bring clear evidence
of medical insurance coverage. In case emergency
evacuation is required, non-USG employees, USG Contract
staff, and Locally Employed Staff from other posts must
have adequate medical and air ambulance insurance and
must carry the contact information with them.
Venezuelan hospitals and physicians do not accept
insurance documents and may require payment in cash or
by credit card.
Daytime temperatures in Caracas are usually between 75
and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. During the rainy season,
roughly from April through November, afternoon rain
showers are common. Evenings can be cool at any time
of the year. Recommend travelers bring a sweater or
light jacket for evening outings, and an umbrella, no
matter the time of year.
Communications with the Press
Travelers are reminded that Public Affairs is
responsible for handling press arrangements for both
mission personnel and official visitors. Contact the
Public Affairs Officer, Salome Hernandez, 975-6990 or
the Press Attach, Brian Penn, 975-8118 after arrival
if you believe you may have contact with the press
while in Venezuela.