Switzerland's presence in Venezuela can look back on a long tradition. Today, there is a Swiss embassy in Caracas and an honorary consulate in Maracaibo. The embassy is active in promoting dialogue and the protection of human rights, supports private-sector actors, and organises cultural events. Beyond this, Switzerland is a major humanitarian aid donor in Venezuela and in the region.
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
The two countries have agreements in investment protection, double taxation and air transport.
The embassy works with civil society to promote dialogue and protect human rights, and supports projects in these areas. In addition, it organises events and participates in cultural activities, such as film festivals.
In 2022 Switzerland imported mainly agricultural products worth CHF 2.1 million from Venezuela. Exports in the same period amounted to CHF 32.5 million, consisting mainly of precision instruments, watches and jewellery, pharmaceutical products and machinery.
At the end of 2021, Swiss direct investment in Venezuela stood at CHF 916 million and Swiss companies employed about 2,307 people in the country.
On 28 March 2018 the Federal Council decided to adopt the EU sanctions imposed on Venezuela. The measures include an embargo on arms and goods used for the purposes of surveillance and internal repression as well as asset freezes and travel sanctions currently affecting 56 individuals. These targeted sanctions have no repercussions for the Venezuelan population.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers who are citizens of Venezuela can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships. Under a mandate conferred by SERI, the University of St.Gallen (HSG) is currently coordinating research cooperation initiatives between Switzerland and Latin America.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
In view of the crisis in Venezuela, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has been steadily expanding its humanitarian aid operations in the country since 2017.
Switzerland provides funding to both multilateral and bilateral partner organisations working to meet the most urgent needs of the Venezuelan population and migrants in the sub-region. It also seconds experts from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) to selected multilateral partners.
Switzerland's engagement is consistent with the four humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, and it takes a strictly needs-oriented approach in the provision of humanitarian assistance.
In 2004, the Espacio Suizo cultural and meeting centre opened its doors in Caracas. Its aim is to promote social and cultural exchanges between members of the Swiss community in Venezuela and the Venezuelan population.
Swiss nationals in Venezuela
At the end of 2022, there were 904 Swiss nationals living in Venezuela.
History of bilateral relations
Switzerland opened an honorary consulate in the capital Caracas in 1909. In 1939 it opened a legation, which was upgraded to a diplomatic representation (embassy) in 1961.