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September 2018    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 44, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Pirates of the Caribbean

from the September, 2018 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Centuries after Blackbeard's cannons fell silent and the Jolly Roger flag was driven out of the rum ports, the southern Caribbean is confronting a not-so-romantic resurgence of pirates. This is due mainly to the economic hardships in Venezuela these days.

The nonprofit Oceans Beyond Piracy studied the incidents recorded by a Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard vessel between Trinidad and Venezuela's northeast coast, and noted 71 major incidents during 2017, including hijacking and robbery of merchant vessels and private yachts. The pirates simply wait for the Coast Guard vessel to vanish over the horizon before acting.

In April, masked men boarded four fishing boats from neighboring Guyana and murdered 15 of the 20-man crew. A Trinidad fisherman was held hostage by Spanish-speaking pirates, who contacted his brother to pay $500 ransom. There have been piracy reports over the past 18 months off the coasts of Honduras, Haiti and St. Lucia. In Venezuela, the country's Coast Guard officers have boarded anchored vessels and demanded money and food.

So far, divers should have no concern because they rarely frequent areas where pirates have been active -- though Venezuela's Los Roques is a good diving destination -- but it's something we'll keep an eye on for you. However, it does seem as if the waters around Venezuela are becoming as risky as those around Somalia.

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