THE HAGUE – The trade boycott of Venezuela against the ABC islands ‘can still take a while’. This is what the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Halbe Zijlstra expects in the run-up to diplomatic consultations today between the Dutch Kingdom and the South American neighbor.
The consultation starts around 7 o’clock in Aruba. On behalf of the Dutch Kingdom, Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes of Aruba and the Curaçao Minister of Economic Affairs, among others, are present. According to the latest reports, Venezuela sends two ministers and a few other senior officials.
Last weekend President Maduro suddenly unilaterally closed the borders with Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. That was initially for 72 hours, but that has already been extended twice. Maduro contributed a number of reasons for the boycott. For example, he wants to stop the shipment of fruit and vegetables to the ABC islands, because there is a shortage in his own country. He also wants to stop the illegal export of products such as copper and gold.
This evening, during the diplomatic consultation, it will be discussed which measures the Dutch Kingdom can take to curb smuggling. But its output takes time. Minister Zijlstra, therefore, expects that the Venezuelan ban will not be lifted very quickly.
The high official consultation is also meant to clarify what is bothering Venezuela exactly, explains a high Dutch diplomat. “Is it really about the smuggling, or is there something else?” In the background, it probably plays a role that there is currently a ‘shortage of almost everything’ in Venezuela. “It is sometimes easier to blame others than yourself.”
In any case, the Dutch Kingdom wants to arrange this evening that the Dutch nationals who are undesirably detained in Venezuela because of the boycott can return to their own country. It involved about 150 people. Of those, about 45 have already been repatriated. The rest must now follow as soon as possible.
Photo: Halbe Zijlstra