Embarrassment for Curaçao government due to destruction relief supplies for Venezuela

WILLEMSTAD - It was an embarrassment for the government of Curaçao due to the destruction of 250 tons of American relief supplies destined for Venezuela. The relief supplies were stored in warehouses leased by the government, but they never reached their destination.

President Maduro of Venezuela had closed the borders to prevent US relief supplies from entering his country.

The operator of the warehouses dumped the goods at the landfill last week because these have gone bad. The bill was sent to Venex, a Venezuelan organization in Curaçao which mediated between the US and Curaçao about the storage of the goods. That was necessary because Maduro did not want to know anything about relief goods from America; the cargo ship with which they were brought had to return to Curaçao under threat of violence.

Venex asked the Curaçao government in August to give the relief supplies a new destination on Curaçao itself. Also, on the island the need is high among the Venezuelans, who often stay here illegally. But there was no response and the warehouse operator, Curinde, therefore drew its conclusions when the bill was not paid, and the products expired.

Last year there was a lot of media attention for the role of Curaçao in international aid to Venezuela. The US government had asked via Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok whether Curaçao could serve as a focal point for American humanitarian aid to the Venezuelan opposition leader Guaidó. He had declared himself president, but he failed in driving Maduro out.

Curaçao eventually facilitated two flows of humanitarian relief supplies through its territory: assets from the US government through the USAID relief agency and assets collected by US and Puerto Rico citizens, in solidarity with the Venezuelans.

The USAID goods were shipped via Panama shortly thereafter, because the border between Curaçao and Venezuela remained closed. But the 250 tons of goods that came from civilians remained in the rear of the warehouses.

The Curacao government is trying to limit the image damage by placing the mistake with Venex. That organization would not have followed the rules. But Venex does not want to take any responsibility because it was not the owner of the relief supplies.