VENEZUELA-SINT MAARTEN – The Government of the Republic of Venezuela has lifted its suspension of air connections to Sint Maarten as well as the other Kingdom countries including the BES Islands (Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius).
The suspension if it was to remain in place would have left hundreds of Venezuelan passengers/tourists who are visiting any one of the islands stranded until further notice. This brings great relief to those in Sint Maarten and in the other countries of the Kingdom that they will be able to fly back to their home country.
Travellers are expected to cut their vacations and family visits short not knowing what will happen next. Rather than being stuck and running out of financial resources, airlines could see an influx of people wanting to travel back to Venezuela within the next few days.
The suspension of air service also included cargo, mail, and special transport. The suspension was issued on Friday, July 25, 2014 by the Venezuelan Government and was in place for several hours before being lifted.
The suspension of air services according to diplomatic sources has to do with the arrests and detention of a Venezuelan diplomat in Aruba at the request of United States law enforcement authorities. It has been alleged that the Venezuelan diplomat Hugo Carvajal, a former Head of Venezuelan Military Intelligence, is wanted by U.S. authorities on drug-trafficking charges.
A Judge in Aruba on Friday, July 25 ruled that Carvajal should remain detained by Aruban authorities until an extradition request has been processed.
The Venezuelan Government says that Carvajal has diplomatic immunity and therefore could not be arrested, but the Aruba Judge has stated that he does not enjoy any diplomatic privileges. Carvajal according to Venezuelan authorities was to be sworn in as a consular representative to Aruba.
This case will be closely watched to see what Venezuela’s next move will be.
Tourism officials in Curacao, Aruba and Bonaire are left uneasy not knowing what the impact will be on tourism. Venezuelans traveling for holiday may be hesitant to still make the trip not knowing if they will get stuck on one of the islands should Venezuela institute a travel ban.