THE HAGUE–The Dutch Government is not excluding taking far-reaching measures as part of the European Union (EU) against the Venezuela Government, but this will be done in close consultation with the Dutch Caribbean countries.
Dutch caretaker Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders and Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk stated this in a letter to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Monday.
“The Dutch Government has determined that diplomatic pressure had not proven sufficient to get out of the crisis through negotiation. The Netherlands is surely not excluding far-reaching measures, including measures aimed at persons, under the condition that they are effective, that they don’t adversely affect the population and in the context of the European Union,” the Ministers stated.
“Naturally, the Netherlands will closely coordinate this with Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten in the interest of the Kingdom, for sanctions can have an effect on the islands, considering the economic ties with Venezuela.”
The Ministers stated there was no reason to assume that the territorial integrity of the Kingdom was in danger. However, the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard has intensified its patrols. “The Dutch Government also sees to it that the Coast Guard has sufficient means to adequately execute its duties.”
Koenders and Plasterk acknowledged it had become more difficult to maintain solid bilateral relations, due to the internal situation in Venezuela. “At the same time, Venezuela and the Kingdom remain neighbouring countries. The Government is applying a combination of pressure and dialogue.”
Where possible, the cooperation between Venezuela and the Kingdom is continued, especially in the area of security which benefits the fight against organised trans-border crime and drugs smuggling. Venezuela recently confirmed it will participate in the large search-and-rescue training Open Eyes which takes place on a regular basis.
The Ministers also addressed the issue of illegal migration from Venezuela to the islands. They stated there were still no indications of (pending) large-scale flood of refugees. It is expected that Venezuelans will mainly keep fleeing to neighbouring countries on the continent.
This does not take away the fact that the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard has been arresting more illegal immigrants compared to previous years. The most recent 2017 figures showed that so far a total of 245 illegal persons were arrested, mainly Venezuelans. A total of 220 persons were arrested in Curaçao, 22 in Aruba and three in St. Maarten.
The majority of Venezuelan migrants come to the islands for economic reasons, many of whom arrive legally via the airport, but stay longer than allowed, and then disappear into the illegality after their maximum period of stay has lapsed. The Dutch Government supports the islands’ restrictive foreigners’ policy.
As for the preparation for an eventual increase of illegal immigrants, the Ministers explained that preparations and preventive measures were taken, including the drafting of operational crisis plans. The Dutch Government has been assisting with this, but also international organisations such as the Red Cross, the United Nations High Committee for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
This Thursday, the Second Chamber’s Permanent Committee for Foreign Affairs will meet with Koenders and Plasterk in a general debate to discuss the situation in Venezuela and the effect on the Dutch Caribbean part of the Kingdom.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/69212-measures-against-venezuela-possible