Published On: Thu, Oct 6th, 2016

Government is naïve when it comes to Venezuela

THE HAGUE – The Second Chamber says that the Dutch government is naïve when it comes to Venezuela, Pieter Hofmann reports on Caribisch Netwerk.

The parliament is concerned about Venezuelan influence on local elections and about the recent purchase of the refinery in Aruba.

Second Chamber members: “Government is naïve when it comes to Venezuela


D66 faction leader Alexander Pechtold. Photo Caribisch Netwerk / Pieter Hofmann

The parliament sees with a heavy heart how Venezuela is taking over the Aruban Valero-refinery through a daughter company of state oil company PdVSA. Alexander Pechtold (D66): “How naïve. A corrupt and bankrupt country that is going to mess up things through a daughter company of PdVSA.” He foresees a lot of environmental damages in the kingdom. “another fifty years of misery,” he groans.

The parliament is also concerned about Venezuela’s interference in the local elections in Curacao in 2012. Recently it became public that Venezuela offered political and financial support to Pueblo Soberano that won the elections in 2012. Pechtold has pointed out to Minister Plasterk (Kingdom Relations) and Koenders (Foreign Affairs) that Venezuela lays claim to the Leeward Islands in its constitution.

Plasterk maintains that political interference – which is punishable in Curacao – is a matter for the autonomous countries. The Public Prosecutor’s Office is capable of solving this, he says. The prosecutor’s office in Curacao says it has not received any complaints and it does not give information about ongoing investigations.

Parties are not at ease and they want to know more about the Venezuelan influence, for instance on the elections that took place in Curacao yesterday. If the elections are not clean, the guarantee function kicks in, says Roelof van Laar (PvdA).

André Bosman (VVD) says that interference with local elections is a matter for the Kingdom, Koenders has however not been in touch with the Venezuelan government about this issue. He says that indications and evidence are insufficient.

Several parliamentarians are still concerned about the coast guard. Plasterk maintains that the process of ‘re-dimensionizing’ is off the table and that the number of patrols has increased with the objective to intercept boat-refugees. The number of refugees is stable.

Plasterk and Koenders guarantee that the Netherlands is prepared for several scenarios if there is a disaster in Venezuela that has a lot of influence on the kingdom. The two ministers don’t want to say much about this, claiming that this is confidential information that could also have an accelerating effect.

Parliamentarians have demanded information in writing about the coast guard and the Aruban refinery. Plasterk promised that he will send this information before the handling of the budget of his ministry.