The instability and economic crisis in Latin America are causing the region to grow spiraling towards maritime instability.
Venezuela is descending into chaos, both on land and on the high seas. Without intervention, illegality along the Caribbean coast will continue to be transferred from land to sea. This includes the same commitment of time, resources and naval power. In addition, conditions throughout the country have steadily worsened. Since 2013, Venezuela has lost half of its economy. Unemployment is close to 30%, even as the price of goods increases by 13,000%. In the same way, it is estimated that inflation for 2019 will reach 10 million percent.
Like most variants of protracted crime, piracy often comes from political and economic instability. Latin America is not immune to such uncertainty. The political turmoil in the region is increasing, from Haiti, Nicaragua and, of course, Venezuela.
A report by Oceans Beyond Piracy on the subject found that there are 71 major maritime incidents in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2017, 163 percent more than the previous year. The Caribbean coast off Venezuela was the site of most of these attacks, with San Vicente, Colombia, St. Lucia and the Grenadines also being hot spots of piracy in the region.
The imminent crisis of piracy
Jeremy McDermott, co-director of Insight Crime, a non-profit organization that studies organized crime in Latin America and the Caribbean, has called the Venezuelan coast “criminal chaos.” The incidents are not only low level theft but also pirate attacks often orchestrated, violent and sometimes lethal. One of those acts saw at least a dozen fishermen killed in May of last year. Four ships traveling from neighboring Guyana to Suriname were attacked by pirates in what the president of Guyana described as a “massacre.”
Venezuelan waters have not always been so problematic. In the late 1980s, the fishing industry in the coastal state of South America was booming. During this time, Venezuela became the fourth world producer of tuna. However, the prosperous business suffered a dramatic blow after the nationalization of Pelscapa, the largest fishing company in Venezuela.
The institutionalized corruption of the State and the bad management led to a complete breakdown of a prosperous industry. Private companies began to disappear from the docks. As a result, the lives of those who depend on the Caribbean coast for their livelihoods became more difficult.
The despair is growing. Piracy along the Caribbean coast could provide opportunities for Venezuelans to acquire goods, food or foreign currency from the outside world. The situation has become so grim that it is now believed that many of the piracy attacks are sanctioned by or directly involved by corrupt Venezuelan officials. This is reminiscent of the increase in Somali piracy more than a decade ago, where the lack of an effective government, after the collapse of the Siad Barrie regime in 1991, led to the deterioration of public institutions, the rule of law and, in a Review, The Somali Navy.
Evaluating the effects of overflow
International attention is focused on the emerging refugee crisis and the possible collapse of the Maduro regime. It also recognizes the high probability of massive hunger in these conditions. Even so, the turbulent coast does not receive the same level of attention. If the threat of piracy in Venezuela continues, its neighbors in difficulties will also experience this instability. States such as Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago already face considerable maritime risk due to piracy, drugs and arms smuggling. Their coastal-centric economies can not afford any additional increase in risks as such.
Source: La Patilla