Published On: Tue, Dec 16th, 2014

Venezuela, the new tourist destination

Jacob Gelt DekkerLast week Monday, the USA-Senate approved a bill that seeks sanctions against Venezuela’s ruling party members, who stand accused of violating human rights.

Ranking Senate member Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) released his hold on the legislation this summer.

“A regional dialogue remains the best option to help Venezuelans find a negotiated, democratic way forward that addresses systematic violations of human rights,” Corker said. “But the Venezuelan government’s complicity with criminal activity that threatens its neighbors and the U.S. demands a firm response from our country and other nations.”

Amongst the sanctioned politicians are the former head of the Directorate of Military Intelligence, Hugo Carvajal and the current Director, Iván Hernández Dala. Also the names of former Foreign Minister, Elias Jaua; former Interior Minister Miguel Rodríguez Torres; Luisa Ortega Diaz fiscal and governors Francisco Rangel Gómez, Alexis Ramírez, José Gregorio Vielma Mora and Henry Rangel Silva, appear on the list of 100-200 people

With these sanctions, the US Senate seeks to suspend visas and freeze assets in US territory of Venezuelan officials involved in human rights violation during the protests that caused 43 dead, nearly 900 injured and more than 2,500 arrested between February and May, 2014. Many members of the Venezuelan ruling elite and their family members live a life of grand luxury in the Miami-Florida area, where they commute regularly with private jets. These Venezuelan politicians appear to have unlimited access to US dollars at the preferred government rate of 6.3 Bolivar for 1 US $, whereas the general public pays over 180 BF.

President Maduro did not seem to understand the US-action when he commented with: "(We) do not accept arrogant and imperialist sanctions. This is the homeland of Bolívar and US has to learn to respect it. Desperate as they are, they want to challenge Venezuela with sanctions and threats. I think that President (Barack) Obama’s madness, his pathway of sanctions, will come out very badly. President Obama should restore balance to Venezuela because of the Bolivarian Revolution, "

The US-Senate action was but a pinprick to the escalating problems of the Maduro junta. Plummeting oil prices reduced Venezuelan government’s income with at least 30%. In desperation the Maduro government launched new initiatives to earn hard currency. Tourism was officially declared as the new spearhead of the Venezuelan government economic initiative. Millions of tourists have to make up for the short fall in oil revenue.

According to the World Bank, “only 710,000 foreigners visited Venezuela in 2012, a number below the 904,000 visitors who travelled to the small Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba, and a far cry from the almost 23.5 million tourists visiting Mexico.”

Venezuela has a lot to offer the visiting tourist but lack of security, as one of the countries with the highest murder rate in the world, will deter even the most adventurous visitor.

The widespread suspension of flights to the country by international airlines as a result of non-payment of some US$4 billion in fares has caused a drastic reduction in airlift. At least, Maduro can look forward to the rich and famous of his sanctioned 200 party-elite and their families, to start frolicking on the play grounds of Bolivar in the Venezuelan back lands, now that those no longer will be welcomed in Florida. In fact, the US Senate has stretched out a helping hand to a friend in need.

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