WILLEMSTAD - The economic misery in which Venezuela finds itself has prompted many local fishermen to retrain to become pirates in order to escape unemployment. That says Colin Freeman, foreign correspondent of the British newspaper The Telegraph.
According to Freeman, the problems are felt mainly in Trinidad, where local fishermen are deprived of their catches and boats, are being mistreated and even kidnapped.
But, according to Freeman, the Venezuelan pirates, who use fast motorboats, not only pose a threat to Caribbean fishing, but also create new routes for the export of cocaine and weapons.
"Most of the attacks along the coastline of Trinidad happen just before sunset, so that the pirates under the cover of the darkness can disappear undisturbed," the victims testify. "Nobody doubts their origin, however."
"The pirates have their base in Venezuela, where President Nicolas Maduro's many years of economic policy have made hundreds of fishermen and even members of the national coastguard unemployed and have created piracy. Trinidad is the southernmost island of the Caribbean and is only ten miles from the Venezuelan mainland. "
It is assumed that a large proportion of the pirates are former employees of the Venezuelan tuna fleet, which has collapsed through the nationalization program of Hugo Chavez, the predecessor of Maduro.
"Sometimes our people are just robbed, but in other cases they are kidnapped to Venezuela and a ransom is demanded for their freedom," says Esook Ali, leader of the local fishing association, to The Telegraph.
"In the beginning, amounts of between $ 5,000 and $ 10,000 were asked, but now that's much higher, even ransoms of more than $ 30,000 are mentioned. That is impossible for our community to pay. Coastal guard has been asked for armed escorts, but no response has yet been received. "
But in Trinidad, not only does fishing suffer the activities of the Venezuelan pirates. There is also talk of smuggling cocaine and weapons from Venezuela to Trinidad. The weapons would in many cases come from the underpaid Venezuelan security forces, desperate for income to be able to continue to provide for the livelihood of their families.
The smugglers then return to Venezuela with large loads of diapers, frying oil and rice, which are no longer available on the home front along the official market. The Venezuelan coast guard would also engage in piracy.
Some are asking how long it will be before these criminal activities take place in the territorial waters of the ABC Islands. Venezuelans are desperate, and they will do anything to find sources of income even if it means engaging in criminal activities.