Notes From The Margin

June 16, 2007

Venezuela and Bird Island

Filed under: Caribbean,Petroleum,Venezuela — notesfromthemargin @ 2:37 am

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 15°40′18″N, 63°36′59″W. 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) .

Bird Rock

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?



  1. Also interesting reading on this point:

    Yes I know I’ve given them lashes before….

    and the original article:

    Comment by notesfromthemargin — June 16, 2007 @ 2:50 am | Reply

  2. very well researched nevertheless – great photos

    Comment by Ian Bourne — July 5, 2007 @ 11:17 pm | Reply

  3. I really do believe that we should keep an eye on Venezuela, as it’s influence will impact us in many ways in the future. Most likely in some ways that we haven’t thought of yet. I’m working on some more material on Venezuela as I believe it is under most peoples radar in the Caribbean.

    Comment by notesfromthemargin — July 6, 2007 @ 4:43 pm | Reply

  4. […] Venezuela and Bird Island […]

    Pingback by Venezuela and Its Claim of Most of Guyana’s Land « Notes From The Margin — July 10, 2007 @ 5:47 pm | Reply

  5. […] socialism, Caribbean, law — notesfromthemargin @ 1:08 am In a previous article (Venezuela and Bird Island) I talked about Venezuela’s claim on Aves Island. Now Aves Rock (or Island). This island is […]

    Pingback by Details on Aves Island - How Venezuela Controls the Caribbean Sea « Notes From The Margin — July 21, 2007 @ 1:21 am | Reply

  6. Marginal,
    Very interesting EEZ map using the “island” scenario. Do you will like to share with us a map showing the rock scenario?
    Thanks, Yayo

    Comment by Yayo — August 12, 2007 @ 6:07 pm | Reply

  7. Yayo,

    I don’t have a map, but I believe that under the Law of The Seas convention a “rock” is allowed only a 12 mile “economic zone” as opposed to the 200 Miles given to an island.


    Comment by notesfromthemargin — August 13, 2007 @ 1:30 am | Reply

  8. […] Venezuela and Bird Island […]

    Pingback by Venezuela Attacks Guyana - Is This A First Strike? « Notes From The Margin — November 20, 2007 @ 9:33 pm | Reply

  9. I am a student who is presently doing a research on this very topic and I am wondering if you can be of some assitance in terms of information and links on Aves Island.

    I have heard that Dominica has relinquished its claim to ownership can you confirm or deny this fact?

    Comment by Zion — February 3, 2008 @ 4:05 pm | Reply

  10. I don’t think they have formally relinquished it, but they have made themselves heavily dependant on Venezuela for a number of things including petroleum. So their negotiating strength with respect to Bird Island is effectively zero.

    To be fair Dominican policymakers don’t have many options.


    Comment by notesfromthemargin — February 3, 2008 @ 8:56 pm | Reply

  11. […] Venezuela and Bird Island […]

    Pingback by Is This Venezuelan Propaganda Under Hammie La’s Name? « Notes From The Margin — April 13, 2008 @ 9:08 pm | Reply

  12. Fascinating story!
    Venezuela has outsmarted us, and enriched itself.
    Maybe we should send somebody to live on Culpepper Island to make sure no one claims that!

    Comment by Keltruth Corp. — June 16, 2008 @ 4:56 pm | Reply

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