Spy-flights over Venezuela from Curaçao: SP demands answers

21 December 2009

Spy-flights over Venezuela from Curaçao: SP demands answers

SP Member of Parliament and foreign affairs specialist Harry van Bommel is demanding an explanation from Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen regarding American espionage flights over Venezuela. The flights have for the last few weeks been taking off from the airfield at Hato in Curaçao, an island in the Dutch Antilles which remains under Dutch sovereignty. A Boeing RC-135 aircraft has flown daily missions into Venezuelan airspace. This has provoked the anger of the Venezuelan government, which accuses the Netherlands of contributing to existing military tensions between Colombia and Venezuela. “The Netherlands must dispel tension with Venezuela and promise that we will in no sense give our approval for any threats or sabre rattling.”

Harry van Bommel Van Bommel is at the same time calling on Verhagen to do all in his power to reduce tensions between Colombia and Venezuela. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has issued instructions that uncrewed aircraft entering the country’s airspace from Colombia should be shot down. “I’m calling on the Minister to treat this as a matter of urgency and contribute to the de-escalation of these tensions,” says Van Bommel.
The Dutch Antillian islands of Aruba and Curaçao have for a decade been employed in the framework of the treaty on ‘Forward Operations Location’ (FOL). With the aid of this treaty, US armed forces carry out flights over Colombia as part of the fight against drugs and guerrilla groups. The SP parliamentary group has, however, only just discovered that RC-135 aircraft are also deployed under the aegis of the FOL treaty.
When the FOL treaty was agreed in 1999 the SP could already see the risks it carried for security in the Caribbean and so voted against approving it. At the beginning of 2010, the SP will insist that prolongation of the treaty be the subject of a parliamentary debate. “I would like to add my voice to the call from a number of Antillian parties at the beginning of December to facilitate peace negotiations between Colombia and Venezuela,” says Van Bommel. “I call on Minister Verhagen to make a major contribution to this. Sabre-rattling between Venezuela and Colombia must be ended as soon as possible.”

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