Airlines are hoping for regime change in Venezuela. They see it as the only way of collecting all the money trapped in the Bolivarian Republic and the only path to restore air service.
Thanks to strict hard currency export controls and continued malevolence on the part of the Maduro regime, several airlines have money trapped in Venezuela.
Dating back to 2003, Venezuela placed fixed exchange rates and restricted the purchase of USD and EUR, trapping billions in airline revenue sold in local bolívares. In 2015, the policy was dramatically tightened. The policy amounts to de facto expropriation.
During a forum in Panama City, Peter Cerda, IATA’s Regional Vice President for the Americas, said:
Right now, recovering this money is a lost cause. We hope that in the future, when there’s a change of administration, it allows us to have a dialogue about recovering that money.
While the airlines that remain sell only in hard currency, there are other reasons that airlines are hoping for regime change beyond just the money. Traveling through Venezuela is also risky business. Martin Echenique of CityLab reports:
Since 2017, security for the airport has been provided by the National Bolivarian Guard, or GNB, Venezuela’s highly militarized police force. An investigation from ABC, one of Spain’s largest newspapers, reported that passengers on international-bound flights were being extorted by GNB officers at the check-in area before going through any security checkpoint. According to ABC, members of this “military mafia” regularly threatened to deny boarding and demanded foreign currency, tech gadgets, or jewelry from travelers.
In addition, bandits are colluding with customs staff to profile wealthier looking travelers, then stop then at gunpoint on the freeway connecting the airport to central Caracas.
And to top it all off, the airport frequently experiences blackouts and often operates without running water.
Welcome to paradise…
The situation in Venezuela is truly a sad one. While this story focuses on why airlines want regime change, I can only imagine how much the citizens of Venezuela hope for new leadership. Caracas was once one of the wealthiest cities in South America. Airlines from around the world served Caracas and Air France even offered Concorde service. I am hoping for a day when Venezuela returns to being a wealthy nation.
> Read More: Caracas Airport is a Sad Window into Venezuela
@Matt: you mixed up city and country in your post above. You said: “Venezuela was once one of the wealthiest cities in South America. I am hoping for a day when Caracas returns to being a wealthy nation.”
As for Venezuela, a lot to blame on the people as well. People that vote on regimes like the one in Venezuela are people that want to live under the Government umbrella, have an easy life, make easy money and not worry much about working hard. Now they are paying the price. Yes, Venezuela was a great country and Caracas a very wealthy city. It is a dump now. Watch out for Argentina as it is ready to become the new Venezuela depending on the results of upcoming election.
You are so right! Chavez pandered to the portion of the population who have low incomes and who are generally uneducated. Meanwhile, the opposition were so fractured between multiple parties that Chavez was able to win. And, with the hard left, that one win is all you need.
With regard to the dangers at Maiquetia Airport, this is not new – foreign travelers were commonly profiled and then targeted on the way to Caracas as far back as 2003. That’s the year when Chavez beat the recall election and the GNB really became the police force of the Chavistas. From 2003 onward, any journey through that airport and beyond has been perilous – becoming increasingly so in the past several years. In fact, I was surprised at how many years it took for airlines to stop requiring their crews to have stopovers at CCS. It is very dangerous – travelers have literally been kidnapped before even leaving the airport! I guess it took this financial issue to seal the deal for them.
Good grief, who would ever go there ?