Maduro's Reciprocity School: An Eye for a Nail

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 11.38.34 PM
Paris Hilton spearheads the landing of big bucks American tourists in Cuba, and snaps a selfie with Fidel Jr.

Bad news for our dear gringo friends, particularly those who have a death wish and were planning to travel to Venezuela in the near future: the Maduro administration will require US citizens to apply for (tourist) visas before entering Venezuelan territory.

This measure is part of a (sort of) diplomatic retaliation package thoroughly crafted by Nicolas Maduro to get back to the US for humiliating Venezuelan government officials with their sanctions and supposed meddling in the affairs of the Bolivarian Republic. In his announcement he also cited espionage, conspiracy, and other reasons copy/pasted from the script. As he reminded us, Nicolas Maduro knows of “these things” (reciprocity?) since he was in charge of Venezuelan foreign policy for many years.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Visa requirement for Americans who wish to travel to the country with the second worst tourism numbers in the region. The cost will be equivalent to what Venezuelans have to pay in the US embassy to get their visas. Plus some tortuous Cadivi-like process, I’m sure, although details are yet to be announced.
  • Reducing the number of US officials working at the embassy in Venezuela. According to Maduro, the Venezuelan embassy in DC only has 17 people, while the US has over 100 people in their Caracas premises.
  • All meetings of US officials in Venezuela must be duly notified to the Venezuelan authorities.
  • Sanctions to some US officials and politicians who will not be able to enter the country. The President said these individuals have been charged (?) with conspiracy, violation of human rights, and, of course, terrorism.

The list includes some US officials that have been active denouncing violation of Human Rights in Venezuela like Senators Marco Rubio and Bob Menéndez, and some celebrities who just want to party such as George W. Bush.

W? Why yes, W. He’ll be shunned from the Bush family fishing trips to Los Roques and Amazonas.

Touché, Mr. President.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.


  1. Why any reasonable person would want to go to Venezuela now is beyond me. The main airport in Caracas is only slightly better than one would expect in Mad Max. Unless you hire security, you are lucky to arrive at your hotel. The announcement is just another reason why Venezuela is such a joke on the world stage these days. #LOLVenezuela

    I love Venezuela, but this government has destroyed it and turned it into a world laughing stock.

    • Bring a six-pack of toilet paper and you can trade for a quick no-questions visa.

      The customs at Maiquetia airport has a long history of corruption. A few dollars will get you into Venezuela.

  2. I personally think the visa thing will inadvertently help the USA. It will weed out some of the crazies. I am sure the American embassy in Venezuela expends a lot of resources just getting their crazies out of trouble and getting them on a plane back to gringolandia. The planning, commitment and organizational skills necessary to obtaining a Venezuelan visa will likely prove an insurmountable barrier for those who have crossed from PSF into DSM V.

    • Could be. I suspect that the number of politically oriented tourists/PSF has declined in recent years. Your point about the increased visa requirements taxing the capabilities of many PSF is a point well taken- at least from my admittedly biased point of view. The increase in crime may have also resulted in the US Embassy having to assist more US citizens to get out of Venezuela- who may or may not have been crazies.

      Off the top of my head, I would categorize US visitors to Venezuela into four categories: work, ordinary tourism, political tourism, and family related. In the last couple of years, I would think that the only category seeing an increase in US citizens going to Venezuela would be in the family related category. The three other categories have probably declined. It would thus appear that the main result of Maduro’s visa actions will be to further isolate Venezuelan citizens from overseas relatives- a high percentage of which are oppo.

      • Good point. And the knowledge that travel plans will be pre-approved by an office under the control of the Cartel de los Sols is not a big draw either.

    • It’s rife with irony, just as they most desperately need dollars they are going to hinder the fledgling “slum tour” industry.

    • I think it would be an example of cutting off your nose to spite your face, if I have quoted the expression correctly!

  3. Oh he’ll get cheers from the usual leftard hipster malbañados who love to tweet snarky shit about how bad the US is from their Ipads while they sip on some terrible Starbucks coffee, my question is, how long is the gringo hate “high” Maduro’s supporters are on right now is going to last? Sooner or later they’ll come down from it and realize that theres still no toilet paper, what’s gonna happen then? Why didn’t Maduro wait until we’re closer to election time to fire his best bullet? (US resentment) is he getting desperate? Does this mean the government already decided they can’t win an election through “conventional” means anymore so they’re prepping the way to steal them by barring the oppo from participating on trumped up charges of conspiracy with the US?

    • leftard hipster malbañados who love to tweet snarky shit about how bad the US is from their Ipads while they sip on some terrible Starbucks coffee

      Ditto those crying “I feel for you, my poor people”, whatever their political persuasion.

    • Why…..the really fun time in the colas is still yet to happen. The shelves are still relatively well stocked compared to what is going to occur in the coming 8 weeks or so. The last 10 days the number of ships discharging imported cargo (mainly food) in Puerto Cabello has hit new lows in my 8 to 10 years of experience there. It really is getting to be time to get out of dodge.

    • Marc,

      ’cause they usually do not overstay their visa and they bring hard currency. Of course there is the unusual hippy that will do neither.

      Now Brazil requires an $180 visa for American for the sake of reciprocity. I guess Brazil doesn’t stoop to anyone 🙂 Funny thing is that last time I had to travel to Brazil for business (it was a long time ago) I spent more money in the visa process than in my whole Brazilian stay.

      Overall visa requirements just hinder by adding complexity and cost.

      Btw, Dingdong. There are risk takers that will balance the family nexus versus the mortal risk implied in visiting. Our last family visit was Christmas of 2012. After that the plane tickets went ape crazy high and the Mad Max feel took a similar turn with the Monica Spear murder. So the visa requirements, with no consulate near by makes it only that much harder.

      Venezuela lives up to its arm-pit-of-latin-america image which Chavismo has worked so hard to cultivate.

      • “cause they usually do not overstay their visa and they bring hard currency.”

        I don’t know… I was taught that if your neighbour don’t let you go to his house, that you shouldn’t let him go to yours either. I actually liked when Brazil adopted recicrocity, because they started treating us much better. See:

        Excluding Chileans, who are now in the Visa Waiver Program, it’s probably easier for a Brazilian to enter the US than, say, a Colombian or Mexican – due to Obama’s enacted policies triggered by Brazilian reciprocity (see link above).

        I agree with Maduro on this one, if they ask $180 for Venezuelans to grant them visas, the minimum Venezuelans can do is to ask for the same value. I mean, unless you feel that you are inferior and should bow to Americans every time. Go Maduro!

        • ” I was taught that if your neighbour don’t let you go to his house, that you shouldn’t let him go to yours either.”

          I would not think it this way. If you have a bunch of restaurants side by side, you would not want to be the only one with a cover charge and a very unfriendly bouncer. Now replace the restaurant image for tourism dollar and the unfriendly bouncer with a Venezuelan Consular official.

          One more thing F*** Cheverito 🙂

          • But money isn’t everything… There’s pride too, I think.

            If an unfriendly restaurant’s owner mistreat me and my family when I go to his place, I’d rather not have him as customer of my restaurant. And I wouldn’t care less about his money. Because, hell, he mistreats me and my family!

            And Americans are not that unique, there are plenty of peoples all over the world with their pockets full of money ready to spend, and that will at the same time allow Venezuelans in their country with arms open.

          • You cannot compare Itamaraty diplomacy with Caracas rancho cancilleria… And at least Brazil gets lots of tourists, no matter what… but Venezuela?

        • Not quite; this is not a matter of cultural comparison or superior/inferior roles. The way international relations are developed in modern times do not lay on “reciprocity” as a fundamental principle. Trade is the real one, and because trade is not always a bilateral balance then there is always more incentive to attract investment in one of the parts than to the other. In the case of the U.S. and Venezuela, it is clear which part has the shorter side of the stick. What Mr. Maduro is doing is not “normalizing” the relationships on the basis of an non pragmatically principle; what he is doing is just laying out a smoke screen to cover off current domestic events and unrest.

        • The problem is Marc, those fees are to prevent people from showing up in El Norte and then disappearing. There are lots of people from Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, etc. that want to come to the U.S. and stay. There are comparatively few people from El Norte that will show up in those countries and do the same. The fact is that in an international migration sense Venezuelans ARE inferior. Furthermore, in the end, it hurts these countries far more because they lose out on massive tourist dollars. It’s the classic “cutting off your nose to spite your face” kind of action. Russia does it all the time, like when they recently banned foreign meat and other stuff to “punish the West.” The large companies took a small hit until they found new buyers, meanwhile Russian citizens watched food prices shoot up by 20% in the following days. And those prices are still there.
          In the scheme of things, with all the other financial crisis, losing the tourist dollars this year is not earth shattering for Caracas (unless you are in the tourism business). But this is, in fact, a big financial negative for Venezuela and a big nothing for the U.S.

          • I am no friend of Russia’s regime but mind this: things after2013 are special because of the new tensions with Crimea and the rest.

            Now, look at this (2012):

            That is really not bad considering the facts – put aside the visa thing –
            * Russia’s main cities were really expensive for most Westerners back then
            * It is not so easy to travel around in Russia if you don’t speak Russian – unless you are willing to give more money or have a special framework – people waiting for you, etc-

        • Then we should start charging the Chinese, the British and the Canadians, all of which require a visa and charge quite a bit. Canada charges per entry for example.

      • Renacuajo67, that is for sure regarding risking for family. I do it too.

        I do have to say re the comments of Marc that I agree that equal procedures make sense at a 10,000 foot view. However, from an economic development policy it doesn’t. Countries trying to promote tourism and business eliminate visa requirements or make the visa requirements simple (upon arrival for example). Venezuela is trying to promote tourism right now due to the crappy state of the economy. The U.S., while encouraging visitors, does put visa restrictions in place due to immigration issues. Everyone WANTS to go to the US. Few WANT to go to Venezuela.

        Everyone knows how difficult it is to deal with the Venezuelan consular services, so this requirement makes Venezuela a much less attractive place to go for tourism or business for a myriad of reasons. I am sure that many Americans have gladly made their last trip due to this change. As to other folks with $ traveling to Venezuela? Look at the data. The US is in the top 3 by visitors. It will take many other kinds of visitors (and the kind with lots of $) to make up for the loss.

        Frankly, I’m not surprised or disappointed by this decision. The more this government makes these stupid decisions, the more silly they look on the world stage.

    • Because they bring da dollas– (Island music)–“Drinking ron con Coca Colaaa, Ya Ya Ya Ya Ya, Working for the Yankee dolla.”–But, of course, Venezuela doesn’t need $–They have OIL, and are RICH!

  4. Goodbye Venezuelan citizen visas for visiting the U. S.–the U. S. Embassy in Caracas will need 17 Marines just to defend itself.

  5. My wife is a nervous wreck over this announcement! I wonder how this will work for Venezuelan born U.S. citizens that would like to return to VZ to visit/care for aging family members. Serious question….would the process be less onerous for US citizens born in Venezuela? Does anyone now?

    • One solution would be for her to get a Venezuelan passport – not a simple process, especially if one doesn’t live near a functioning Venezuelan consulate, but feasible.

      Venezuelans, by birth or naturalization, cannot lose their citizenship unless they formally renounce it and are, therefore, entitled to Venezuelan passports. Most countries, including the U.S., recognize dual citizenship and the right of its citizens to hold passports of other nations. In the case of the U.S., the only requirement is that you re-enter the country on your U.S. passport.

      • It took my wife, a Venezuelan who does not have American citizenship, more than 16 months to get her passport renewed through the embassy here in DC (although most of the holdup was in Venezuela). We tried everything to make it happen. Good luck.

      • The only problem with dual citizenship is that if you are detained in one of the two countries that you claim citizenship, you have legal limitations to assistance from the other that would normally be provided. As a Venezuelan-American, you wouldn’t necessarily be denied consular access to the U.S.; however, they would be limited as to what they could do for you. For all intents and purposes, if you have citizenship to both countries, legally, while in Venezuela you are considered fully Venezuelan.

        My wife has pushed me for some years to acquire Venezuelan citizenship every time we go to San Francisco…apparently its something that is relatively (and I say that disregarding the bureaucratic hurdles) easy to acquire for married couples. However, given my background and the government’s antagonistic attitude towards gringos with the random detentions, I cheerfully pass.

          • Not according to the consular officer in S.F.

            Article 33 applies, but by marriage, the residency requirement is waived if you have been married at least 5 years apparently. The residency requirement of article 33 is for those seeking the letter of naturalization or for minors born outside the country.

            I had a rather fascinating discussion the last go-around with the consulate. No ideology involved.

            That does bring up a curious question about reciprocity…. In the US, you are supposed to be resident for 5 years prior to applying for citizenship. However, for a yanqui of non-latin heritage, you have to wait 10 years in Venezuela before potentially receiving citizenship. Apparently there’s a bit of a bias against non-Latin folk the Patria.

          • I don’t know if things have changed since, but in 1990 I graduated from USB and married my very Venezuelan wife. I tried to hedge my bets before I returned to the US for graduate work so I tried to become Venezuelan. I was informed that a wife could not transmit the nationality to her foreign husband. The other way around, it would have worked.

            They did give me my ‘residencia’ given my newly minted “Ingeniero” degree.

      • However, travelling with a Venezuelan passport technically does not provide you with Consular protection in the event of an emergency. You are basically travelling as a Venezuelan and not a US citizen..I believe using your US passport immediately provides you certain protections and rights. I stand to be corrected if wrong. If the Embassy or Consulate needs to get involved you may have some explaining to do why you are not travelling under the protections afforded as a US passport holder. And in the world of bureaucratic red tape, this may not be what you need in the event of an emergency.

    • That person that was born in venezuela only needs the cedula to enter, and it says, what do you want i had to come to get my passport! By law if you are Venezuelan you should enter with your passport. I have friends with dual citizenship, sometimes they have enter with the gringo passport another they bother you, but if you don’t have the passport you use the cedula…when entering and use the “you good for nothing I had to came all the way to get my passport”!

    • Here is the latest information from the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela:

      On March 3, the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, DC posted updated tourist visa information for U.S. citizens planning travel to Venezuela. According to the website of the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, U.S. citizens should plan to apply for a visa three months in advance of travel. U.S. citizens should expect to pay $30 for a one-year, multiple-entry visa good for a 90 day stay in Venezuela.

      All U.S. citizens planning travel to Venezuela must have a tourist visa. The U.S. Embassy in Caracas is aware that airlines have refused to board U.S. citizens who do not possess a Venezuelan tourist visa. The Embassy strongly urges all U.S. citizens planning travel to Venezuela to check both the Venezuelan Embassy’s English and Spanish webpages regularly for the most up to date information about visa application requirements and procedures. U.S. citizens should direct questions to the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, DC or Venezuelan Consulates currently located in Boston, New York City, Chicago, New Orleans, Houston, San Francisco, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

  6. some celebrities who just want to party such as George W. Bush.
    W? Why yes, W. He’ll be shunned from the Bush family fishing trips to Los Roques and Amazonas.

    I suspect you have the Bush’s mixed up. For it was Bush senior who went to Vz for big game fishing.
    Caracas (Venezuela), February 16, 2001:
    Former U.S. President George Bush is on a private visit to Venezuela. He plans to spend a few fays fishing for bone fish in the Caribbean archipelago Los Roques and for peacock bass in the Venezuelan Amazon.

  7. Gisela’s husband, your wife has a right to be worried. I am worried, too. Part of my Venezuelan husband’s family still live in Venezuela and not all have current Venezuelan passports or US tourist visas. My elderly father in law has just applied for a new Venezuelan passport. Will his US tourist visa still be valid–it’s over 10 years old but I think when it was issued it did not have an expiration date. Too many questions, so much uncertainty. Is Venezuela slowly becoming a Cuba, where its citizens will not be able to leave?

    • Visas do expire.

      If the Visa is still valid when the passport expires, you take the old passport and the new one to get the visa “carried over” to the new passport, unless there is less than 6 months left on the visa in which case you need to get a new visa.

    • Sorry Mary, When they issued the infinite visas, after 9/11, if you entered the US either they put a note saying valid for 10 years , or enter and when you go back to Venezuela you have to renew it. (that happened to my brother in December 2002 he had that visa) then he got it in 2005 for 10 years.
      Fr example my visa is in one passport , and for x reason i have had other 2 passports, so i had to travel with the old passport and the new passport ( the third one). The other thing is that you sponsor your father in law to become a green card holder… and No, Venezuela is not slowly becoming Cuba, it’s already Cuba.

    • “Indefinite” US visas became 10 yrs visas many years back. If you try to use it 10 yrs after the issuance date, they will not allow you on a plane or turn you back at the border.

      Yes, Venezuelan residents have slowly been blocked from leaving without the official word “you can’t leave” by making it impossible for international airlines to operate in the country (only a few airlines sell in local currency), restricting purchase of US dollars to a mere $3000 per year per primary credit card holder (yes, you cannot be awarded foreign currency unless you have a credit card, except for the cash advance between $300 and $500 depending on the destination). Of course, the political situation of the country and the threat that it creates plus the people’s personal financial situation makes it more difficult for Venezuelans to obtain a visa to go to the US, the UK, Ireland or Canada. It will get even worse if Venezuela is removed as a beneficiary Schengen agreement, which allows visa-free entry into most of the European countries. Doors to leave are quite open for Venezuelans to exit the country and travel, but it seems those doors are at the top of a very steep, wet and rocky hill.

    • Thank you for sharing the link to the New Yorker Article. Great jokes. I also loved the one about buying a car in the old Soviet Russia. It now makes sense why Maduro approved the law to use live ammunition on protesters. Maduro must be getting crazy paranoid that his House of Cards is crumbling.

      This one was my favorite.

      [Two men are waiting in a food queue and one of them finally snaps. “That’s it,” he announces, “I’m sick of lines, and I’m off to shoot Nicolás Maduro.” With that, he storms off, only to return an hour later, and jostle back into his former spot. “Well, did you do it?” asks his companion. “I couldn’t,” the man says. “The line to kill Maduro was even longer than this one.”]

  8. As of Marc’s (3:41 PM) comment most everybody started pissing out of the perol…!!! All this bolsería about reciprocity, pride, cost of the visa, etc is plain BS. The government’s measures have nothing to do with that. Its the following act of a dreadful charade having to do with finding somebody, someone to blame for the absolute mess maduro and his crooks have carefully brewed. It’s simply another smoke bomb. It’s the foundation for the plan to involve all opposition leaders in an alleged plot to overthrow the government and then either hold the parliamentary elections ahead of the programmed date (?) or simply declare a state of exception and cancel elections on account of the threat of a potential invasion by US Marines.

    • Madura announced last week that Russian and Chinese aircraft carriers were headed to Venezuela as a show of solidarity and protection of the homeland. I have it on good authority that the marine invasion has been postponed as a result.

    • Edmundo,
      You don’t get is the level of discourse.
      We all know Maduro is doing it as a smoke screen. We know it very well.
      That is not the point. We are discussing whether independently of that citizens of one country should give more rights to citizens of another country than those they get from them.
      It is not just about pride. The actions have long-term consequences, consequences you will only see if you take a view beyond your little world.
      That is the difference between a country full of COMPRADORES and a country of citizens that are aware of their weaknesses but start to act with confidence.

      Maduro is talking bullshit. We should demand a visa to every Chinese, Canadian, UK citizen and US citizen…as long as they demand the same from us.

      It is not like we are going to scare aware tourists. We have been doing that all the time.

      • My point is that the ilegítimo and his security forces are outright killing kids and jailing protesters, running the Constitution along the same path that he shouted gringos to run their visas, and we are going to discuss whether VE is being reciprocal as to visa fees…? Ah, come on! Give me a break…

      • In that point you are right, when you have a decent Cancilleria. But when you have hellokitty Cancilleria, all is BS. Itamaraty is a serious Cancilleria. Now imagine , Dc has 17 veenzuelans, so as the only embassy/consulate is in caracas ( and one consul in Maracaibo) Well they will be only 17 staff in the whole US for Venezuelan embassies! And yes it would not be bad that they demand visas, because they do it with BOLIVIANS ( a friend of mine visited Veenzuela, she has a Bolivian passport as well, and she thought it was going to be easier, well they asked her for the letter of invitation, and bunch of things they ask to countries they are deemed not so desirable. She entered with her gringo. Isn’t that funny? in Revolution times they demand a bunch of things from Bolivians and until Know , nothing from Americans!!!)

  9. Making this about “reciprocity” is ridiculous. Every bilateral relation is different, but an imbalance in visa privileges between nations is the rule and not the exception. It is normally harder for citizens of poorer countries to get into wealthier countries than vice versa. This is nothing new, abnormal, or “unfair”.

    Nevertheless, in this case, Venezuela has every right to do what they want to. They will not lose a great deal of money from American tourism. But, the next time they need a technician urgently from the U.S. to repair something, it won’t happen as quickly as it used to. Somehow, I doubt that PDVSA was consulted on this.

    • Oh, never fear, Roy. There will be a two-tiered visa system, one preferential; the other not. Not that most people would know about it. For the revolution talks one way but behind its back shows its non-egalitarian stripes.

      • There’s a story with the US-two-tiered visa system, but it would take a lot of digging to flesh out by someone much more intelligent and handsome than moi.

        Curiously, the EB5 visa program had a banner year for Venezuela in 2014. There were nearly twice as many visas issued to Venezuelans (96) as the rest of South America combined (49). Brazil was number two at 30. Compare that with 35/19 (Vzla/All S.A. others) for 2013 and 48/20 for 2012 respectively.

        The EB5 can be gamed if you have enough money. It requires establishing a business with some employees, and it has to be in a targeted employment area, $1 mil in a metro area, you know, like Hialeah, or Miami Garden City, or $500k to a few outlying more rural counties. In any event, they can all effectively be shells and there’s nothing wrong with having the same employees in more than one place; after all, everybody needs jobs, and some people need more than one…or three…or five.

        I think it would utterly fascinating if someone were to ask the right questions of the right people about just what sort of visas were recently revoked by the yanquis…. They weren’t all B1/B2s…which has got to have some people truly miffed.

      • David Morán ‏@morandavid

        Maduro, sentado en un cojín de bayonetas, tuvo mucho cuidado de no prohibirle visa a ningún jefe militar estadounidense, p.e. Colin Powell

  10. To begin with, the number of “Gringos” visiting Venezuela for strictly tourism is tiny. Trust me, North Americans are hip to all the crime in Venezuela. The hassle will be for those who work for the multinationals who must travel there for business. Just another pain in the ass trying to do business there. I doubt seriously that there will be many companies from North America willing to continue business under the current circumstances. I’m somewhat surprised the airlines are still flying there.

  11. For those who have family in Venezuela, there us an option for visiting them without the stress or danger.There is a cruise ship that boards in Aruba, LA Guira, Colombia and Panama. Buy them a ticket from LA Guira, you can board in Aruba and enjoy the rest of the cruise as you visit Catagena and Colombia while eating sumptuous meals. You won’t have to set in foot in the Boliviaran Republic.

  12. They won’t be missing any big stuff here anyway, people that come to this country are risking to have a facefull of bullets.

  13. Miguel Octavio ‏@moctavio

    Gaceta dice los ciudadanos de USA necesitan visa por reciprocidad. ¿Aplicarán lo mismo a Chinos, Britanicos y Canadienses? Ellos piden visa


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here