By Rachael Boothroyd
The German Embassy in Caracas has alarmed political observers in Venezuela by publishing what the press has described as an “alarming” official declaration to its citizens in the South American country.
Published on February 5th, the declaration is written and signed by the Chargé d’Affaires at the German Embassy, Dr. Jörg Polster. It began to make the rounds on social media networks over the last two days.
In the statement, German diplomat Polster informs readers that the embassy is extremely “worried” about the current situation in the country and advises German residents to take a number of “precautions in the face of the crisis”.
These precautions include having “lots of provisions” such as enough food and drinking water to last “in our opinion, for 2 weeks”, as well as cash, medicine, batteries, candles, and copies of important documents.
“We shouldn’t take it for granted that we will have access to electricity or internet services. The validity of passports and identity documents should be verified regularly,” continues the text.
A 24 hour emergency phone line and link to an information e-mailing list are also given in the statement, which recommends that members of the German community have the embassy’s phone number “at hand at all times”.
“In terms of the precautions to take in the face of the current crisis, it’s important to add that the embassy is constantly monitoring the situation and will publish information about the development of events when necessary,” it states.
Many news outlets in the country have described the statement as “alarming” whilst others have labelled it “suspicious”.
The socialist administration of Nicolas Maduro is currently facing a stepped up economic war which is causing scarcities of basic goods, as well as increased calls by the political opposition for his government to step down. Many observers have likened the situation to pre-coup 1973 Chile, whilst government supporters have accused the US of plotting to facilitate a coup alongside the right-wing opposition.
“What development are they waiting for? Is it possible that they know something more than they are letting on?” stated an article on the pro-government website, Laiguana in reaction to the declaration.
Despite the furore, the German embassy has denied that it meant to cause alarm by the declaration and unusual advice.
“Without describing any concrete scenario, we always advise having food and water at home… For reasons of prudence, those who manage German embassies have a duty to occasionally communicate with the German citizens residing in those countries,” stated Moritz Jacobshagen, Secretary of Cultural and Political Matters at the embassy on a local radio show.
“Many people on Twitter are saying that we are on the brink of evacuating German citizens, this isn’t true… This statement is purely routine,” he added.
Walter J. Lindner has been German Ambassador to Caracas since July 2012. There are currently estimated to be around 20,000 Germans living in Venezuela.