Nobody in Venezuela seems to have noticed, but in The Hague they think they’re having a diplomatic crisis with Venezuela. It all started a few weeks ago, when Chavez said he feared the US would use Curacao – which is a self-governing part of the Dutch Kingdom just 40 km. from Venezuela’s coasts – as a forward base to invade Venezuela. This right-royally spooked the Dutch, who worry Venezuela could freak out and invade the Antilles pre-emptively.
Yesterday, members representing a majority in the upper house of the Dutch parliament called on the defense and foreign affairs ministers to get on top of the Chavez threat. Citing Chavez’s recent arms purchases, Liberal (in euro-speak, right-wing) member of parliament Zsolt Szabo called Dutch defenses on the island a “swiss cheese” and urged the government to take control of defending the islands.
Two weeks ago, the defense minister, Kamp, called Chavez an unreconstructed populist with a lot of money “who casts big eyes on the scraps by the coast of Venezuela which form part of the Netherlands Kingdom,” but then backtracked somewhat, telling parliament that there is no chance of a Venezuelan invasion of Curacao.
My super-secret Dutch source think this is more about domestic political posturing in Holland than about any real threat to Curacao. But it’s still interest to see Chavez playing the role of bogeyman in Dutch political wranglings…