Venezuelan-Dutch spat over Caribbean islands spying



A diplomatic rift between Venezuela and Holland that began three years ago has flared up again, after Caracas accused the Dutch government of helping the US spy on Venezuela. Speaking last week at the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez said the US had been granted use of Holland’s Caribbean possessions to spy on Venezuelan communications and to “prepare a possible military attack against his country”. He was referring to Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire, the three Netherlands Antilles islands closest to the Venezuelan coast. The Dutch government has authorized the US military to use civilian airports on the islands, which form a self-governing overseas possession of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The US Department of State quickly denied President Chávez’s accusations, calling them “baseless” and describing US military activities in the Netherlands Antilles as “routine exercises”. A strong denial was also issued by the Dutch government, which summoned Venezuela’s ambassador to Holland to provide explanations of President Chávez’s comments. Dutch foreign minister Maxime Verhagen said that US military activities in the Dutch Caribbean are “in connection with anti-drugs campaigns”. President Chávez’s latest charges were aired just over three years after he accused Holland’s Defense Ministry of acting as a “pawn of Washington” in trying to vilify him as a “tyrant making plans for invasions of neighboring countries”.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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