Living on or retiring to the tropical island of
Isla Margarita or Margarita Island, Venezuela
Tropical Island Living!

This is the third page of our information on Living, retiring to
and Working on Margarita Island or Isla Margarita.

On this page you will find information about Language, Banking, House help, Nannies,
Gardeners, Security Guards, etc. as well as the Political Situation & Security in the country.

Because of the total amount of information on living in Margarita Island I have broken it down
into 4 separate pages:

Page One:
Climate and Weather, Property Ownership, Exchange Controls,
Starting a Business and working on Margarita Island

Page Two:
Supermarket Food Prices, Utilities including phone, Internet,

Electricity & Water & Cellular phones.

Page Three (you are here):
Language, Banking, House help, Nannies, Gardeners, Security guards,
Political Situation, & Security

Page Four:
Schools, Doctors, Hospitals, Medical Insurance, Buying a Car and Insurance, Driving


It is always best to have a working knowledge of Spanish as few people who you will be dealing with
on a day to day basis speak any other language. A few may speak English but not enough for you to get by.
There are a number of schools and teachers on the Island who would be willing to teach you for a fee.
You should use the 6 months to a year renting to learn the language before jumping in with both feet.


I do not recommend keeping very much in Venezuelan banks.
The banking system is poorly controlled and with regular devaluations, and
the occasional failure, any money in Bolivars can be quickly lost.
It is recommended that you use outside banks.
Even keeping a supply of US$ cash (better) or traveler's checks as
"just in case" money is a good idea.
You can now also use your foreign credit cards here &
get the DICOM rate which is
approx. BsS.22.187 to US$1 (September, 2019) 

Please visit this page for information on the currency conversion that happened on January 1, 2008
to the new Bolivar Fuerte. The government deleted three zeroes from the currency.

I strongly recommend to anyone planning an extended stay here that you make sure that your foreign bank
allows you to make "on-line" transfers on the Internet to other banks.
This sometimes means signing documents at your bank before leaving.
Once you have this ability you will find it much easier and faster to obtain local currency at the best rate.
An active "verified" PayPal account is also beneficial.

I recommend using a large bank like Banco Provincial, Banesco, Banco Mercantil
or one of the other major ones.

Under no circumstances use one of the many smaller banks as my experience shows
that money can be lost even with signed receipts.
One other thing is that, in my experience, the larger the bank
the more arrogant and inattentive they get.
It's not unusual to find line-ups of 40 or 50 people in line waiting to get to a teller
and the bank has only opened 2 of their 10 windows.
Unfortunately this is one of Banco Provincial's worst faults.
It recently took me 40 minutes to withdraw some money from my own account
and I was one of the first ones in when they opened.
Banesco & Banco Venezuela are other horror stories of long lines.

*Dec. 09, As I predicted above the national government has now closed 8 smaller banks
because people associated with the government have stolen or lost all the money.
More closings are predicated with dozens of high ranking officials now being arrested or fleeing the country.
Banco Provincial continues as one of the stronger banks however due to the other closings
line-ups are longer than ever.

July 2011: There are only a few private banks left in Venezuela.
The government has closed or absorbed a large number of banks including
the large Banco de Venezuela & Banco Confederado.

Banco Provincial & Banesco are the 2 largest private banks that remain. Long lines continue.

April 2012: The government continues to threaten the few remaining private banks with expropriation.
Banco Provincial is now in the process of converting their branches into ATM transactions only.
All deposits & withdrawals must be made at the ATM not the cashier.
Really, really annoying especially when the ATMs are not working.

Update: March 2013 - Trying to get to a live cashier is now almost impossible.
All transactions such as deposits of cash & cheques & withdrawals of cash are now with ATMs.
The daily limit for cash withdrawals is only Bs.1.500 or around US$38.

Sept. 2013: Banco Provincial has now completed their changeover to ATM machines.
There are still live tellers however the lineups are lengthy & very slow.
As an example our local branch in La Loma now has only 1 cashier when there were 3 before the changes.
I will admit that when the ATMs are working they are fast & efficient for both cash & cheque deposits.

January 2015:
With the huge inflation occurring in Venezuela the problem of having cash is increasingly awkward.
The largest bill in circulation is Bs.100 which currently has a value of around US$0.71.
That means that to have US$100 in Bs. means having 170+ bills.
The maximum daily withdrawal from the ATM's is Bs.8.000 or approx. US$47

July 2015:
Based on the new SIMADI exchange rate (Bs.200 to US$1) Bs.100 is now worth only US$0.50
US$100 = 200 bills of Bs.100
Current black market rate would mean about 450 bills of Bs.100
Maximum ATM withdrawal of Bs.8.000 = US$40.00

September 2019:
The SIMADI (DICOM) rate is now
approx. BsS.22.187 to US$1
Old Bs. from 2008 to 2018 have been totally withdrawn
from circulation and are now worthless.
The new currency is designated as BsS. (Bolivar Soberano) after removing 5 0s from the BF.

House Help, Nannies & Gardening, Security Guards

It's very easy to find people who will help you out (maids, gardeners, nannies, etc.) at very reasonable cost
(see remarks below about working here). The problem is always to find people that you can trust.
This does not come overnight. You must use a network of people that you will meet over time
to recommend other people of trust that you can hire.
I have been very lucky with the people I have, however, you won't go too far to hear some horror stories.
I guess the thing is to not be too trusting and naive.
Just keep reminding yourself that this is not Canada, Germany, Holland or whatever and
you must always take a step back to check things out before making commitments.

If you are considering a watchman or security guard for your new house
then you have to be even more careful in your background checks.
It's an unfortunate fact of life here that many robberies are assisted by or directly done
by the very people you are paying to protect you.

Political Situation & Security

For the last 15 years Venezuela has had a populist president who, depending on your view, is either hated or loved.
This has caused a decrease in foreign investment and higher unemployment.
A referendum (Aug. 20, 2004) gave the president a new political life although the opposition claimed
that the results were rigged by new electronic voting machines.
Regional elections in Oct., 2004 and Aug., 2005 have further entrenched the Chavez government
with many additional governors and mayors being elected who support him.
Here in Margarita the incumbent Chavez governor was defeated and replaced by
an opposition governor, Morel Rodriguez, who had previously been governor of Margarita some years ago. 
For the Dec. 4, 2005 National Assembly elections much of the opposition refused to participate
due to alleged irregularities and confidentiality of the voting system
& as a result the National Assembly is almost totally in Chavez' camp.

General elections were held on Dec. 3, 2006.
The incumbent president won with a landslide of more than 60% of the vote.
He has promised to continue his current socialist revolutionary style of politics and will no doubt
be strengthening it now that he is in such a strong position. It is hard to predict where that will lead.
On Dec.2, 2007 there was referendum on changes to the existing constitution
& it would be wise for any potential investors to investigate the implications of these changes before investing.
The changes to the reform of the constitution were defeated.

Elections for mayors & governors were held on Nov.23, 2008.
Morel Rodriguez repeated as Margarita's Governor.
The "opposition" won 5 state governorships including the major population areas of Venezuela.

A referendum was held on Feb. 15, 2009 which changed the constitution to eliminate
term limits for elected officials including President Chavez.

National Assembly elections were held in September 2010.
These are the elections that the opposition did not participate in the last time around due to alleged fraud
& allowed the current government to have total control of the law making process.
The opposition won 52% of the vote but only got 40% of the assembly seats
due to changes in the electoral areas which benefited the government.
The President also received special powers for 18 months
which effectively eliminated any power the new assembly members would have.
It's a very complicated situation right now
The President's recent bout with cancer has only added to the uncertainty. (July 2011)

Sept. 2011 - Presidential elections will be Oct. 7, 2012 with governors in December 2012
and mayors & councilmen in April, 2013

Feb. 2012: Henrique Capriles, the governor of Miranda state, won
the opposition primary with more than 60% of the vote.
There were more than 3 million voters for this primary -
a much higher participation than was expected.
Capriles will now face Hugo Chavez for president of Venezuela on Oct. 7, 2012
All candidates have agreed to support Capriles in a unified effort to unseat Chavez.

April, 2012 - The cancer that showed up in the president in mid 2011 has now reappeared
and, despite denials from the government, his health problems appear to be worsening.
This could have a huge effect on both the elections & the political / economic future of Venezuela.

Oct. 8, 2012 - Hugo Chavez won the presidential elections on Oct. 7
which gives him another 6 years in power (if he survives his illness).
He has promised to deepen his socialist policies.
How this will affect the country for the next few years is hard to gauge.

Dec. 28, 2012 - The government party won most of the state elections.
Chavez has disappeared into the medical system in Cuba & no one really knows what condition he's in.
He's supposed to be inaugurated on Jan. 10. From the looks of it he's not going to be in Venezuela on that day.

Feb. 3, 2013 - No sign of Chavez as we now have passed 55 days with no proof of life.

March 5, 2013 - Chavez officially dies from cancer

Sept. 23, 2013 After new presidential elections in April we now have a new president Nicolas Maduro.
The election results were disputed by the opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles,
who continues to insist that he is the rightful president of Venezuela.
Mayoral & local elections will be held on Dec. 8, 2013

July, 2015: National Assembly elections will be held later this year (Dec. 6, 2015).

Dec. 8, 2015: The opposition coalition MUD won 111 seats in the 167 seat National Assembly.
This will change dramatically the political face of Venezuela when they take office on Jan. 5, 2016
It will be an interesting next few months.

August 2016: We have just finished the first of three steps to recall President Maduro.
1% of the voters signed and were verified by the Election Board to hold a Recall Referendum.
The next step will be to collect 20% of the voters who want a Recall.
The CNE has announced that the earliest that it can be held will be late Oct.
If that step is completed successfully then the final step would be a general
Recall Referendum where 50% of the eligible voters would need to vote "si" to recall the president.
The goal is to get all this done before the end of 2016.
If this happens then a new presidential national election must be called within 30 days.
This now looks like the government will not allow this to happen in 2016 or 2017.
Regional elections (governors, mayors) scheduled for Nov. 2016 have now been postponed indefinitely.
No new elections of any kind have been scheduled, April 2017

May 2017: Maduro announced last night (May 1, 2017) that he would call a National Constituent Assembly.
This effectively eliminates any kind of elections in the foreseeable future.
The manner in which this Assembly will be called will no doubt be heavily rigged in favor of the government.
Not a good sign for the immediate future.

July 2017: On Sunday, July 16, 2017 the opposition will hold a plebiscite with 3 questions related to the NCA mentioned above.
On July 31 the government will hold elections for representatives for the NCA with very restrictive voting regulations
to guarantee a majority support for the government.
The opposition will not participate in these elections which they consider illegal and unconstitutional.
The results of Sunday's plebiscite was incredible.
More than 7.6 million Venezuelans voted with 98% calling for a stop to the illegal NCA.

October 2017: On Oct. 15 elections are planned to elect governors in all Venezuelan states.

March 2018: Presidential elections have been called for April 22 (now changed to May 20) HOWEVER the opposition
 has indicated that they will not participate due to unfair voting conditions.

Elections were held May 20, 2018 with no opposition participation.
As expected the Election Board cooked the numbers.
There has been an almost universal rejection of the election as legitimate.

On January 10, 2019 Maduro had the Supreme Court inaugurate him for another 6 year term.
This in itself was illegal as the constitution requires this to be done by the Assembly National.
Countries around the world have rejected him as the legitimate president of Venezuela.

On January 23, 2019 the duly elected Assembly National chose Juan Guaido to be the interim president
until proper elections can be held.
He was immediately recognized by the USA, Canada, European Union, Argentina, Brasil and Colombia to name just a few.
The coming days and months will be very important for the future of Venezuela.

For up to date news stories in English have a look at

The good news for foreigners is that the cost of living is very reasonable in Dollar, Euro or Sterling terms.
Also Isla Margarita is a very peaceful island. We seldom are affected by what goes on in the rest of Venezuela.
Safety and security for tourists here are better than in many other vacation spots
and certainly far better than in most major cities throughout the world.

For those of you planning on buying a house or apartment here, you must consider
the security features of the property you are about to buy or be prepared to modify it
once you buy it to avoid home entries which have become more common.
High walls and either concertina wire or electric security fencing are the order of the day.

You can also see information on a
B&B (posada) / hotel / large house for sale
in Playa El Agua beach here!

If you need some time to find a rental place I can recommend my vacation property
as an affordable & comfortable place to stay for a couple of weeks / months
while you are looking around and getting oriented.

Margarita Tropical Villa Pool
Margarita Tropical Villa bed and breakfast (posada), Playa el Agua, Margarita Island, Venezuela
Bed & breakfast in Playa El Agua. rooms with king size beds,
A/C, pool, fridges, DirecTV, free Internet & breakfast
From US$33 double - See for info!

Pool Side Room


Living, Working & Retiring In Margarita Island, Venezuela - Page Index
Page One
Climate, Property, Exchange, Business & Working
Page Two
Food Prices, Utilities, Phone, Internet
Page Three
Language, Banking, Help, Security, Political
Page Four
Schools, Hospitals, Doctors, Car Buying, Insurance


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Contact: Dan & Kira O'Brien, Playa El Agua, MARGARITA ISLAND, Venezuela,

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Telephone: Please call ONLY between 8 AM & 7 PM Venezuelan Time
We do not give quotes by telephone. Please send an email.
(58) 295-249-0558 / 295-249-0715 or Cel (58) 416-695-3704

NOTA IMPORTANTE: Si requiere información de disponibilidad o precios favor enviarnos un e-mail.
No damos información via telefónica.

This site was created by Dan O'Brien...your comments & suggestions are welcome.