I have been a foreign correspondent in Venezuela for 3 years and have almost certainly had better access to President Chavez and his high-level deputies than the access I would have had to equivalent functionaries in the U.S. as a Washington correspondent. I have had a few experiences where rookie National Guardsmen started to give me an extra once-over because I was a gringo, but very quickly the superiors just wave me through. I had some unpleasant racial profiling experiences with some cops one night while walking with a more gringo-looking writer who was in town to write up sights for Lonely Planet — we got hassled twice in three blocks — but that’s the exception. Normally I haven’t had any problems related to my citizenships (U.S. and Canada, though I travel with a U.S. passport).
However, to answer the question in his title line – is Venezuela safe for U.S. citizens – the answer is a definitive no. It’s not safe for anyone! But so long as you’re not being kidnapped or killed, it’s fine. Have a good trip!