Venezuela, Orinoco Delta: Two Dutch Cruising Boats Suffer Armed Robbery

Published 11 years ago, updated 5 years ago

Update: Posted 21 March 2013

You might be interested in the following information we got from friends as a follow up on us being attacked in June 2012 on the Manamo River. The message we received runs as follows and it confirms our suspicions that the attackers were pro’s:

“I thought you might like to know that the men who robbed you on the Manamo were indeed policemen. After they had robbed you they then attacked tourists at the lodges and the lodge owners insisted that the authorities investigated as they were going to lose money if tourists were frightened to come. Four men were caught selling stolen computers, phones etc. at the market in Tucapica. Two of the men were policemen. Whether they were sent to prison is another matter, but some boats from Trinidad are starting to go back there now. That will be good for the Warao people.”

Maybe it is useful to add this to the report we made in June 2012,

Best regards,

Reinhilde van der Kroef onboard S/V Bella Ciao, Puerto Rico

Original Report: Posted 15 June 2012

On Sunday, June 10 this year two Dutch sailing vessels, the catamarans Pélagie and Bella Ciao, were subject to an armed robbery on the Caño Guamal, a side stream of the Manamo River (which is a part of the Orinoco Estuary) in Venezuela.

Fortunately, no one was hurt.

The crew, Nils Honhoff and Hanneke Klaver (SY Pélagie) and Frits du Bois and Reinhilde van der Kroef (SY Bella Ciao), describe what happened in their own words.

“On Sunday, June 10th, 2012 our two sailing vessels were anchored in front of the Orinoco Delta Lodge on the Caño Guamal, a side stream of the Manamo River (which is a part of the Orinoco Estuary). All 4 of us were on board Pélagie, the two men outside and the two women inside the cabin.

“At half past seven in the evening, a speedboat with four-man arrived. These men were of Hispanic appearance, about 35-40 years of age; one wore army trousers (camouflage type), the others wore good fitting leisure clothes. All of them wore leather boots. They had no masks on and behaved self-conscious and calm. They attached their speedboat to the Pélagie and all four embarked, with 3 pistols pointing at Frits and Nils outside. At hearing the noise the women came outside. With the pistols pointed at the four of us, the attackers told us to sit down, saying “Money, money”. Hanneke went back inside with one of them to look for the purses and to hand them over.

“In the meantime, the second attacker went inside the cabin to look for things of his interest and to collect them. The third attacker took a knife out of the kitchen and cut all the ropes he could reach in the cockpit and threw the parts of the ropes he cut in the speedboat.

“Meanwhile the first attacker kept his pistol pointing at us. The fourth attacker now said, pointing his pistol at Frits (being the captain of the Bella Ciao), that he wanted to go over to the other boat (Bella Ciao) with him. They went together in the dinghy of the Bella Ciao. Upon arrival there he demanded money, which Frits gave him and in passing he took a digital camera.

“Hanneke, Nils, and Reinhilde were still sitting outside on the Pélagie, the pistols of two attackers pointing at them, while now and then one of the attackers went in front to keep an eye on his colleague aboard the Bella Ciao.

“On the return of Frits and the fourth attacker, the second attacker came out of the cabin with a bag filled with clothes, toilet-items, and shoes. He also took several backpacks containing 4 PC’s, 2 cameras, a telephone, and other electronic equipment. While keeping the pistols pointing at us they returned to their speedboat, half an hour after they arrived and disappeared in the dark.

“After this, we contacted the people of the Lodge who were very helpful and caring. We were afraid the attackers, who now knew that there would be more to get on the Bella Ciao, would come back in the night. So we anchored right in front of the lodge and they gave us both a walkie-talkie. We kept watch during the night and at the first light, at 6 o’clock, we left for Pedernales where we had entered the Manamo river a week earlier.

“Upon arrival, we checked out at the Guardia Nacional (where we also had checked in a week before) and asked them to sign our (in Spanish) written report of what had happened the night before. They refused to do so, saying that juridical they were not able to do this. Since we did not feel safe anymore, we immediately left for Trinidad, where we arrived 10 hours later. Afterward, back in Trinidad, the Trinidad police to whom we were referred, contacted the Venezuelan Embassy to ask them the same. They also refused to sign our report”.

Nils Honhoff

Hanneke Klaver

Frits du Bois

Reinhilde van der Kroef

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