In a surprising turn of events, the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao has recently reversed its stance towards Venezuela and is now seeking to renew its ties with the embattled South American nation.
Curacao has terminated negotiations with US-Brazilian consortium CPR to restart the Isla refinery. Curacao’s state holding company RdK also canceled negotiations for CPR to purchase Curacao’s Bullen Bay products terminal.
CPR is no longer considered a preferred bidder and no longer enjoys exclusivity, according to RdK. Negotiations broke down after questions were raised about the validity of CPR’s financial capacity documentation.
Forgery and Reopening of Borders
The central bank of Curacao and the Dutch state forensic investigator NFI have both confirmed that documents submitted by the Curacao Port Authority (CPA) for the Isla refinery lease tender were forged, including an apparent “comfort letter” from a London-based international bank.
The bank has denied issuing the letter. Despite the setback, Refineria di Korsou (RdK) has stated that it will inform about its next steps towards reactivating the refinery, but it is uncertain when and how it will seek new investors.
Curacao has struggled to find an operator for the refinery since the expiry of PdV’s license, despite RdK promoting it as a potential crude refining destination. The central bank of Curacao and Dutch state forensic investigator NFI both confirmed the forgeries done by CPR, but the identity of the party who submitted the documents is unknown.
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After a hiatus of four years, Curacao has intended to reopen its borders with neighboring Venezuela. Yes, the development has taken place after the complex relationship between Venezuela and the Caribbean Island, a sovereign state within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, worsened in 2019.
Venezuela has traditionally been an important trading partner for Curacao, with oil being the primary commodity. However, their relationship has deteriorated due to Venezuela’s political and economic turmoil under President Nicolas Maduro.
The crisis reached a tipping point in 2019 when opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself the country’s interim leader. Curacao supported the United States’ stance on the issue by supporting Guaido, which caused Venezuela to cut off all ties and impose economic sanctions on the island.
This decision has had a significant impact on Curacao’s economy, and it has been challenging for the island nation to navigate its position in the larger geopolitical struggle between the United States and Venezuela.
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The boiling war
The region’s western narrative is constantly being pushed by European territories there. The Dutch Caribbean continued to echo the West’s voice in the Caribbean. Yet, it appears that there is a sense of realization that fighting with regional players like Venezuela is no good.
At this point in time, cooperation with regional players like SVG, Venezuela, and TT is important owing to the fact that there are talks of a regional bloc of energy independent of western players.
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Curacao’s decision to act against a US based consortium in the Isla refinery is a step in the right direction, albeit belated. It remains to be seen how Venezuela will respond and how the US will react to the incident.
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