Aruba is receiving 12 million Aruban florins from the Netherlands to help it deal with consequences of the ongoing crisis in neighbouring Venezuela, including an influx of migrants. The Dutch government had earlier pledged 23.8 million euros in total for this purpose to the Caribbean kingdom partner and its sister island Curaçao, which is equally affected.
The Hague will spend some of the money directly to tighten border control against the smuggling of humans well as other illicit goods and to increase the detention capacity for undocumented foreigners. Much of Aruba’s part is to be invested in fortifying the economy to help absorb the negative impact, but also in education and the social fabric.
St. Maarten is obviously not located right off the South American coast, but here too the Venezuelan exodus has been noticeable by a considerable number of persons from the troubled nation being hired mainly to labour in the reconstruction process following the devastating passage of Hurricane Irma. Authorities have caught on and targeted them on occasion, but with limited and expensive flight options left, repatriation has proven difficult at best.
One practical way to prevent at least some from arriving as legitimate tourists but becoming illegal workers is an online pre-clearance system like ESTA in the US. Aruba is working in that direction and Justice Minister Cornelius de Weever has already suggested St. Maarten might tag along. It seems to make sense, because Venezuelans don’t need a visa and trying to introduce such a kingdom-level requirement under the current circumstances is hardly an attractive option.
But just as important is to prepare locals to do the jobs that are needed as the island continues to rebuild. It was therefore good to read that a next round of classes under the Income Support and Training Project with means from the Dutch-sponsored Trust Fund managed by the World Bank starts at the end of August.
People still looking for employment should not lose the opportunity to improve their skills while earning a stipend and enhance their future prospects on the labour market. There is nothing wrong with an honest day’s work.