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Responding to the Political Unrest in Venezuela: The Latest Developments and Practical Advice

An escalating political crisis in Venezuela is prompting international companies and national governments to consider recalling foreign nationals working in the South American country.

Social unrest, an ongoing state of emergency, and mounting diplomatic tensions between Venezuela and its regional neighbors following a controversial election result at the end of July are making the situation here volatile.

This has led some organizations and companies to start repatriating employees. The U.S. recalled non-essential staff and family members from its embassy in Caracas a few days before the election. In recent weeks, a number of global energy companies have followed suit. They are either repatriating all or most of their mobile workforce and operating a skeleton staff. Some national governments are also advising against all but essential travel and advising their citizens in Venezuela to keep their departure options under review.

To protect employees’ personal safety, companies with operations in Venezuela are considering large-scale group moves and evacuations, and monitoring the situation as it develops. 

We are looking at the key elements of this geopolitical event, outlining the:

  • practical implications for employees assigned here, global mobility managers and employers
  • considerations for companies in relation to safeguarding employees’ security and supporting business continuity, including preparing for large-scale group moves

Current Situation

On July 30, the authorities in Venezuela held elections for its constituent assembly. The result of the ballot proved controversial and accelerated social unrest and instability, strikes and road blockades by protestors, as well as some reports of military dissent.

Following the election, president Nicolás Maduro established a new national decision-making assembly. Observers fear this removes legislative power from the democratically elected congress.

President Maduro’s decision prompted fellow Mercosur nations to again suspend Venezuela from the trading bloc. The UN has also expressed deep concern and regret over clashes and appealed for calm.

Impact of Venezuela’s instability of daily life

Supplies of medical and essential items

Living standards in Venezuela are already difficult. Reports suggest basic food and medical shortages are increasing. A state of emergency has been in place over the past year, which affords the government special measures to distribute food and direct economic production.

Analysis since the scale of unrest widened also identifies falling oil production, which could further affect living standards in the coming months in this heavily oil-reliant economy.

Financial

Less international trade could potentially reduce the supply of foreign currency in this triple-digit-inflation economy and therefore the availability of essential supplies. The Bolivar’s value against the U.S. dollar has also declined to a 10-year low, making imported items more expensive.

Social unrest

In Caracas, Venezuela’s capital and largest city, tensions are running high with ongoing protests and loss of lives. There have also been reports of military rebellion in the northern city of Valencia, 100 miles or so from Caracas. This unpredictability can make daily life and personal security a challenge.

Considerations for employers looking to safeguard employees on assignment during times of geopolitical uncertainty

Policy review, contingency planning and communication are fundamental to minimizing the impact of uncertainty and safeguarding your employees in challenging times.

Remaining aware of developing situations and actively responding to them will support your company’s management of the uncertainties inherent in this ongoing crisis.

This process includes identifying and engaging with employees affected, colleagues in other teams, and service providers, for example around estimating shipping costs, travel arrangements and emergency evacuation support.

Policy reviews

Given the exchange rate movements and state of emergency in Venezuela, it is also advisable to regularly audit current policies and practices relating to cost of living allowances, as well as hardship compensation.

Contingency planning

Safeguarding personal and employee security is critical during geopolitical instability. Work closely with service partners and government agencies to keep up to date with the situation and the latest risk analysis and advice, then: 

  • Review duty-of-care policies and procedures to reflect your findings and current events.
  • Determine the likely trigger points and lines of responsibility for intervention and specific actions. 
  • Identify employees likely to be most affected and plan arrangements for their short-term and medium-term relocations. 
  • Explain contingency plans to the employees affected, including what each stage will mean for them in practice and how decisions and changes will be communicated. 
  • Highlight planned future assignments into the country, and maintain a record to make future planning easier.

Communication

Knowing where your employees and their dependents are while preserving employee privacy is crucial to effective management and communication of developing situations. Mobile technology has made this easier in recent years.

However you choose to keep your employees aware of change, be sure to relay relevant, timely information to your employees to reassure and keep them informed, along with next steps and emergency contacts to use should the situation change.

Also understand how the situation affects your company more widely and communicate accordingly. Regularly update senior management to mobility-related impacts on its operations and employees, and ensure your relocation planning is in step with preparations in other areas of the organization, for example, legal, tax and finance.

Considerations for repatriating employees and large-scale group moves during states of emergency and political instability

Group moves are a live issue in this fast-moving situation in Venezuela. In dynamic geopolitical events like these, partnering with international household goods removals services capable of handling large numbers of moves simultaneously is fundamental to safe, efficient and seamless repatriation.

From our direct experience of group moves during times of crisis—particularly those that need to offer exceptionally high level service for VIPS, cost-containment and focus on personal safety—we know that dedicated service at every stage is a key element.

Among the areas to think about when selecting a trusted provider include the importance of working with:

  1. Accredited, reputable international removals networks: Professional global removals partnerships can offer certainty and professionalism at a time of unrest and anxiety. Fully certified and insured, they offer reliability, international service guarantees and financial and legal security in challenging environments.

    Global removal networks also combine impressive geographic reach with unrivalled local knowledge. Consequently, they can respond effectively to regional embargoes and authorities’ deadlines, ensuring end-to-end service delivery to practically any combination of host, home or third countries.

  2. Dedicated move coordinators and account managers: Companies can improve their chances of successful relocation by ensuring their group move partner is committed to the highest level of communication for both corporate client and transferees.

    Having a single named account manager offers continuity during chaos. It helps clients remain fully aware of every step. For relocating employees and their families, a team of dedicated coordinators makes the relocation process crystal-clear and stress-free.

    Our experience in these situations shows us that relocating employees in particular find this personal relationship invaluable. It also means HR teams who are supporting employees can focus on other aspects of the move, as individuals’ needs and business continuity demand.

  3. Removals enhanced by secure technology: Technology adds an extra dimension to personalized, responsive and efficient end-to-end global services that integrate with clients’ processes and platforms. Account managers with secure state-of-the-art mobile technology can complete and value household move inventories quickly. Relocating employees also have the freedom to check their consignment status at any time, relieving uncertainty during a time of change. 
  4. Access to the full range of removals and relocation services in challenging times: Trusted international service providers are also likely to offer a comprehensive range of additional support to you and your employees alongside a seamless moving experience.

Additional services available to support successful group moves at short notice from Venezuela include:

The benefits of getting removals and relocation right during unstable geopolitical situations

Aside from delivering on the all-important duty of care for employees, developing and acting on optimized contingency plans for emergency group moves can offer:

  • economies of scale
  • seamless, end-to-end moves globally
  • satisfaction that translates into employee engagement
  • data tracking and actionable insights
  • significant cost savings, including those relating to mishandled removals and extending temporary accommodation as a result

Well-planned group moves make sound financial sense any time. Rapid relocation and group moves during states of emergency and unpredictable geopolitical events are no exception.