Venezuela extends trade ban with 3 Caribbean islands

(AP) – Venezuelan officials have extended the ban on air and maritime ties with three nearby Dutch Caribbean islands, citing smuggling claims.

Vice President Tareck El Aissami said Tuesday on Twitter that Venezuela is pressing for high-level talks with leaders of Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire known as the “ABC islands,” before trading can resume.

El Aissami says leaders of the three islands must control criminal groups he says are smuggling Venezuelan goods, harming citizens of his country.

President Nicolas Maduro first ordered the 72-hour blockade on Friday, accusing island leaders of being complicit in illegal trafficking.

In recent years, Venezuelans fleeing the nation’s economic collapse have sometimes fled to the islands by boat.

Venezuelan authorities frequently blame food and medical shortages on smuggling of subsidised goods out of the nation.

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