The Caribbean sea and coast of Latin America have seen a dramatic rise in piracy, as economic woes and corrupt officials plague Venezuela and other countries in the region. Centuries after Blackbeard’s cannons fell silent and the Jolly Roger came down from rum ports across the Caribbean, the region is confronting a new and less romanticized era of pirates. What we’re seeing — the piracy, the smuggling — is the result of Venezuela’s political and economic collapse!
Piracy in the Caribbean dates back to the 1600s, and it has even become the inspiration for a Disney franchise. However, such practice is on the rise again, jumping a dramatic 163 percent last year. But now, political and economic crises are exploding from Venezuela to Nicaragua to Haiti, sparking anarchy and criminality. As the rule of law breaks down, certain spots in the Caribbean are becoming more dangerous than they’ve been in years.
Earlier this year, in April, a gang of pirates attacked four Guyanese fishing boats. Only five of the 20 crew members of the fishing vessels survived. The others were doused with hot oil, attacked with machetes and thrown overboard.
“They said they would take the boat and that everyone should jump overboard. I tried to keep my head above water, after being beaten and thrown over board in the water.” said survivor Deonarine Goberdhan, 47.
Reports of piracy have been documented along the coasts of Haiti, St. Lucia, Nicaragua and Honduras in the past 18 months. But by far, the biggest surge has occurred near Venezuela. As an economic crisis grips the country—driving inflation to nearly 1 million percent—lawlessness has risen and many have turned to crime in desperation.
As President Nicolás Maduro struggles to maintain control of the country, police and military officials have been abandoning their posts as their paychecks have stopped coming. Repression of basic freedoms and rampant corruption has also risen, with experts suggesting some pirates actually work with government officials.
A group of Trinidadian fishermen said that they had also noticed a sharp increase in Venezuelan smugglers. These smugglers reportedly have been trafficking guns, drugs, exotic animals and even women.
Roodal Moonilal, a lawmaker from Trinidad and Tobago’s opposition United National Congress party said that the situation reminds him of what previously happened off the coast of eastern Africa. A few years back, there was a sharp increase in Somalian pirates terrorizing the coast of the region.
“What we’re seeing — the piracy, the smuggling — it’s the result of Venezuela’s political and economic collapse,” Moonilal said.
Newsweek – RETURN OF PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: PIRACY JUMPS 163 PERCENT AMID VENEZUELA CRISIS
National Post – As Venezuela disintegrates, a new bread of pirates threatens the Caribbean
Oceans Beyond Piracy – South America