Washington (AFP) - The United States on Tuesday urged its citizens to avoid all travel to crisis-torn Venezuela, citing risks of crime and arrest and the US embassy's limited ability to assist.
"Do not travel to Venezuela due to crime, civil unrest, poor health infrastructure and arbitrary arrest and detention of US citizens," the State Department said in an updated travel advisory.
"There are shortages of food, electricity, water, medicine and medical supplies throughout much of Venezuela," it said.
Venezuela becomes the only country in the Western Hemisphere to be slapped with the State Department's "Level 4" warning against all travel, joining war zones such as Syria and Yemen. Americans, however, are not legally forbidden from going.
The State Department had earlier listed Venezuela as Level 3, meaning that Americans should reconsider visits.
While the new travel advisory concerns security of US citizens, it comes as the United States is pressing leftist President Nicolas Maduro to step down faced with Venezuela's economic collapse and mounting street protests.
The United States has recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president.
Washington has refused Maduro's orders to close down the embassy but has pulled out non-emergency staff and families due to security risks.
The travel advisory said that the United States "has limited ability to provide emergency services" in Venezuela.