Netherlands to assess impact of Venezuelan blockade on Caribbean territories

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

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WILLEMSTAD, Curacao (CMC) — The Dutch Caribbean territories of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao have asked The Hague to help determine the impact of an economic fallout based on a threat issued by Venezuela to sever commercial relations.

According to Argus News, the request from the Dutch-controlled islands will be delivered to the Dutch Minister for Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops, who was scheduled to visit Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao yesterday.

The delegation also includes the presidents of the upper and lower houses of the Dutch parliament.

The request was made following Venezuela's imposition of a 72-hour blockade of air and sea access, aimed at what the administration said was a clampdown on the widespread smuggling of assorted goods.

“The request to the Dutch Government is to seek clarity from Venezuela given the importance of commercial relations, particularly with (Venezuelan) state oil company PdV being involved in oil industry facilities in the islands,” a Curacao government official said in an interview with Argus.

A break in commercial ties with Venezuela would damage the economies of the islands that rely on revenue from PdV's current and planned involvement in oil refining, bunkering and storage.

The islands form part of a regional refining and logistical network that Venezuela has traditionally used to reach international oil markets. The oil activity provides the islands governments with significant revenue.

Last Friday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the shutdown of all air and maritime traffic with the three islands for 72 hours.

Maduro accused leaders of being complicit in the illegal trafficking of goods and resources.

The islands lie a short distance from the coast of the South American nation and host oil refineries run by Venezuela's state oil giant and US subsidiary, Citgo.

The Venezuelan Government has contended that trafficking of goods out of the country is one of the chief causes of food and medical shortages.

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