CARACAS, Venezuela, Monday January 8, 2018 – Today ends a 72-hour air and sea traffic shutdown between Venezuela and the neighbouring Caribbean islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao.
President Nicolás Maduro late last Friday announced the three-day closure of his country’s borders with the ‘ABC islands’, as the three Caribbean nations are referred to. He claimed that smugglers from the islands that are located a short distance from Venezuela’s northern coast, were acquiring his country’s gold, diamonds, copper and food, and selling them illegally.
“I didn’t want to take a measure like this, but I am ready to take even more radical measures,” Maduro said in his televised address.
He said he had tried to hold talks with the governments of the islands that are popular landing sites for Venezuelans fleeing the country’s food shortages, but he got no response.
Maduro said he hoped that during the weekend shutdown, the leaders of the ABC islands would have implemented the measures his government had been asking for, for more than two years.
This is the third time in as many years that the Venezuelan leader has closed borders with neighbouring countries.
He shut down the border with Colombia in 2015 and ordered a state of emergency, claiming that food, fuel and other goods were being smuggled there. The following year, he closed the border again, alleging that mobsters were hoarding Venezuelan currency.