The Maduro regime extended a measure taken last week to cut off all contact with the ABC islands–Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao–until the islands’ governments meet with their Venezuelan counterparts to discuss the matter. The announcement was made earlier today by vice president Tareck El Aissami in a series of tweets earlier today.
On Friday of last week, Maduro announced on television that all air and sea connections to the islands would be halted effectively immediately in order to combat “smuggling”, but provided little more information on the decision.
During his address today, El Aissami reiterated that the reason for the decision involved a desire to curb criminal activity. He explained:
We’re not going to allow any more attacks from these criminal organizations, and we call [on the ABC governments] to stop their inaction because it foments impunity, and that they act to stop these mafias that are disturbing the historic relationship between the peoples of the Caribbean sea.
The fact that it is not at all clear what triggered the regime’s decision to cut off all contact with the islands with no advanced warning has proven to be fertile ground for speculation and conspiracy theories. One popular unsubstantiated theory is that the story is providing cover for the laying of an underwater communications cable connection Caracas and La Havana under the watchful eyes of China and Russia.
Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath of Curacao reacted to the news today by saying that Venezuela’s decision did not help relations between the islands and Caracas, a relation that he considered to be on good terms until Maduro’s unilateral decision on Friday.
Ciudad Guayana Sees Second Day of Unrest
Ciudad Guayana saw its second day of unrest today, following a night of sporadic looting that affected several businesses in the city. According to a local journalist named Pableysa Ostos, the areas of Las Amazonas, Villa Bahia, Las Teodokildas and UD-145 were particularly affected by the unrest, which lasted into the early morning hours this morning.
El Nacional reports that at least 6 businesses were looted in the city overnight.
Below, images of some of the damage last night in Ciudad Guayana:
The unrest did not end with the coming of the dawn, as a group of at least 30 trucks blocked traffic on the Los Trabajadores avenue in the city to protest against the lack of repair parts for the vehicles. The protest blocked the main road connecting the city to the rest of Bolivar state.
Below, images of the protest:
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