The government of the country in crisis, which had decided to close its border with Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao on January 5th, has extended the measure indefinitely
Nicolás Maduro has decided once again to close the borders of Venezuela to its neighbors to avoid the transit of goods between countries. Last Friday, January 5, during the meeting of ministers that is broadcasted on television, Maduro decided to close for 72 hours the air and maritime borders with three Caribbean islands, after indicating that through these routes important Venezuelan products were being diverted abroad. The affected islands with this new policy were Aruba, Bonaire and Curazao, three islands pertaining to the overseas territory of the Netherlands, and that according to Maduro "they take away the gold, the coltan, the diamonds, alimentary products".
The Venezuelan president has stated that: "I have ordered the taking of all the ports and airports through which we communicate and we do commercial and passenger exchange with Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire and I announce that as of today and for 72 hours all communications by air and sea are closed with these islands to establish a restructuring and defense of Venezuela's economic interests".
This measure, which began as the application of the Sentinel Plan for Sovereignty and Contraband for 72 hours, has been extended. Indicated by the Vice President of Venezuela, Tareck El Aissami, the border closure will be maintained until the executive of his country meets with the authorities of the three islands and an action plan is defined. As it was well defined in his Twitter account, El Aissami said that "we will not allow any more aggression from these criminal organizations, and we urge that the inaction that fosters impunity be abandoned and action taken to stop those mafias that disturb the relationship historic with these brother peoples of the Caribbean".
The ABC islands, as they are known by their initials, have always been one of the main destinations of Venezuelans. If before they were chosen as a tourist destination because of their paradisiacal landscapes and their proximity of less than 100 kms from the continental coasts, these islands represent nowadays a way out for the Venezuelans willing to go to Europe, as well as a market of food products and other goods that are today in days scarce in Venezuela.
In fact, it is known that the market of these islands helps to meet local demand during periods of scarcity. For this reason, it is believed that the decision of the government of Nicolás Maduro responds not to a true gold and coltan flight, but to a government response to the situation of scarcity that exists in several regions of Venezuela, and that has led protesters to take private shops and even food stores of the state chain that distributes the subsidized products.
However, the closure of these borders does not come as a surprise because the Venezuelan president had hinted at this possible closure in mid-December, when he criticized the national businessmen to take the products subsidized by his government out of the country, to be resold in the islands.
One of the first to speak out against Maduro's decision was the prime minister of Curaçao, Eugene Rhuggenaath, who defined Maduro's measure as unilateral and not consulted. Rhuggenaath told local media that "we regret that announcement because there was no prior contact or diplomatic talks to see what we can do together to combat the smuggling or trafficking of illicit products such as weapons and drugs."
The economic situation in Venezuela seems to be increasingly difficult, but the measures taken by the government cannot cover the holes left by years of looting and economic misappropriation. The measure to close the border with the islands, far from solving problems of contraband, increases the shortage of imported products in Venezuela and directly affects the local population.
Latin American Post | Laura Delgado
Copy edited by Laura Rocha Rueda