I did an earlier post about how the Caribbean is helping to set the hook deeper and deeper with the madness of the PetroCaribe agreement. The other part of this that concerns me is Venezuela’s claim on Bird Rock. Bird Rock (or Isla de Aves if you are Venezuelan) is positioned on the map at. some 70 miles to the west of Dominica (340 miles north of Venezuela). The Venezuelan’s call it an island, the UN Law of the Sea Convention considers it to be a “Rock”. The peak of the land mass is 4meters above sea level on a day with calm seas.
What makes this otherwise nondescript navigational hazard so controversial is because of its location. The country that owns this little piece of rock also own a good chunk of the Caribbean Sea, and the sea floor under it, and for good measure everything under the sea floor (oil, gas …whatever else may be there). A total area of more than 150,000 square kilometers is claimed by this piece of rock and sand barely a kilometer long and 400 meters wide (actually at times it becomes two smaller islands because the sea divides it into two) .
Venezuela has gone to great expense to establish a naval base on the island (on stilts so it doesn’t get submerged), and also it is alleged to have brought in pregnant women so that Aves Island natives can be born there, all to support the claim that it is an island rather than a rock and a Venezuelan island to be precise.
There are only two things that stand in the way of this claim.
The first is that the rock/island/sandbar/landmass is actually closest to Dominica. who could easily mount a claim based on proximity. The possibility of the Dominicans actually mounting such a claim has now been considerably reduced as they are now dependant on Venezuela for their petroleum supplies through Petro Caribe.
Ironically the other thing that might foil our Venezuelan friends is that the island is slowly eroding and has been split into two islands by a hurricane, and could possibly disappear altogether. Venezuela has gone so far as to consider building artificial reefs to protect the “island” Locations shown in the graphic below.
This whole thing leads me to repeat the question: Just what does Venezuela get for Petro Caribe?