The State Department is ordering the families of U.S. diplomats to leave Venezuela’s capital city as tensions mount over a controversial upcoming vote to rewrite the country’s constitution.
A travel alert issued by the agency on Thursday warns U.S. citizens against traveling to Venezuela, citing “social unrest, violent crime, and pervasive food and medicine shortages.”
It also authorizes the departure of U.S. government employees from the embassy.
Anti-government protests and clashes have intensified in Venezuela since April, after the country’s supreme court issued a controversial ruling essentially stripping the legislature of its power.
That ruling was reversed shortly after it was issued, but demonstrations against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro have continued to gain momentum amid skyrocketing inflation and dwindling access to basic necessities, like food and medicine.
The death toll from the unrest climbed above 100 on Thursday, according to The Associated Press.
In the travel warning on Thursday, the State Department urged Americans to have emergency medical evacuation plans in place that don’t simply rely on U.S. government assistance, and cautioned that U.S. citizens should be prepared to cover their own medical costs.
Amid the protests, the State Department warned, Venezuelan police have arrested and detained U.S. citizens with little or no evidence of wrongdoing.