The Venezuelan problem!!

It is no secret that undesirable elements from Venezuela have been entering Grenadian waters for years and engaging in all sorts of illegal activities.

The Venezuelans have been able to get away with their wrongdoing due to the inability of our Coast Guard to provide adequate protection of our territorial waters.

THE NEW TODAY is aware of some of the short-coming of the Coast Guard including frequent non-functioning boats and the often breakdown of some of the boats assigned to this unit of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF).

There are also many locals who encourage the Venezuelans to enter our territorial waters due to the thriving illegal drug trade.

The economic situation in this neighbouring South American Spanish-speaking republic has deteriorated to the point that all sorts of common crimes have become a way of life for many Venezuelans.

It is not surprising that the local fishermen are complaining in increasing numbers of acts of piracy committed against them on the high seas by criminal elements from Venezuela.

This newspaper has taken note of government’s decision to officially protest to the resident Venezuelan ambassador of the plight of our fishermen at the hands of his country folks.

It is our information that the Ambassador met with representatives of the local fishing association to discuss the issue after it came into the public domain.

Unfortunately, these are not normal times in Venezuela and the present government of Nicolas Maduro is facing internal problems and might be more concerned with its own survival and not willing at this stage to spend too much time on such issues.

In addition, Caracas has often given the impression that its territorial waters extend very deep into Caribbean waters and its fisher folks have a right to operate therein.

The Venezuelans lay claim to Bird Island which is definitely within the territorial waters of Dominica.

The problem with some of the Eastern Caribbean islands is that they are beholden to Caracas due to the concessionary oil given to most of them to keep  afloat.

In the case of Grenada, our fishermen have been complaining for months now about acts of hostility against them on the high seas by the Venezuelans and the rulers in St. George’s were seemingly doing nothing to address the issue.

It is only in recent weeks that something appears to be happening because the acts of piracy became more and more public.

The government now has among its rank, Sen. Peter David, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs in the 2008-13 Congress who is said to be very close to the Venezuelan President.

As a matter of fact, David’s close aide, President of the Senate, Chester Humphrey once boasted that David and Maduro are “very close” and call each other by their first names whenever they meet.

Can David be given the task to impress upon the President of Venezuela the need to help curb the acts of piracy by his countrymen against our poor fishermen who resort to the seas to help sustain their families?

THE NEW TODAY also calls on government to get serious with Caracas on talks to delimit the boundaries between the two countries as was done with Trinidad & Tobago.

Venezuela seems reluctant to engage in delimitation talks with its neighbours, leaving some to conclude that it has hegemonic designs on the Caribbean Basin.

Right now, Guyana is complaining quite frequently of acts of hostility against its own fishermen and others in disputed territory.

It should not be forgotten that Venezuela is insisting that two-thirds of Guyana belongs to it.

If Maduro and company cannot control their pirates, THE NEW TODAY would like to see government making an approach to the United States to help us protect our territorial waters against incursions and hostile acts by Venezuelans.

As a small island with limited resources, Grenada lacks the means to adequately protect its borders and should never abandon its traditional friends for the promise of a few laptops and tablets.

The United States and Britain have patrol vessels operating in the Caribbean and there is nothing wrong in asking a big brother with the maritime means and military arsenal to come to our assistance like 1983 to deal with the RMC thugs.

If Maduro cannot reign in his pirates and stop them from terrorising our fishermen then the government must use its 15-0 Parliamentary majority to do all that is necessary to protect the interest of the Spice Isle.

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