Edward D'Oley, the governor of British Jamaica, proclaimed in 1661 that the peace just concluded between England and Spain did not apply to the Caribbean.

Pirates and buccaneers could therefore safely set up a base in Port Royal, from where they attacked Spanish ships without coming into conflict with the authorities.

D'Oley's successors also tolerated the pirate trade: taverns, brothels, pirate supply stores - they all made a living from piracy.

Rainer Hank

Freelance author in the business section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper.

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After that, the distinction between the colonial establishment and privateering, between state authority and illegal business, became increasingly blurred.

Henry Morgan (1635 to 1688), one of the most famous pirates in world history and known as "the horrors of the Caribbean", was able to "legalize" his illegally captured wealth by investing heavily in sugar cane plantations.

In the end he even became lieutenant governor of the colony and, as a reward, was knighted by the English King Charles II.

Does that sound familiar?

Today's privateers may lack the flair of Captain Morgan.

But they too – whom we call oligarchs, klepto- or plutocrats – ennoble their dubious property acquired after the collapse of the Soviet Union in “safe havens” (Londongrad) protected by the British crown.

In the 1990s, a copy of an ID card was enough to buy real estate in London on a large scale.

Nobody cared that the name from the identity card was not entered in the land register afterwards, but a company based in the Caribbean of all places.

Privateers had become "honorable men".

The regional focus does not change

Could piracy be a timeless form of existence, beyond the skull and crossbones, the eye patch, the wooden leg, or Johnny Depp's Pirates of the Caribbean?

Is piracy a prime example of illegal markets, where the line between legality and illegality is blurred or not applicable at all?

Both questions can be answered in the affirmative.

Incidentally, the classic business model of pirates still works, despite all the advances in international law: In the past two decades, the "International Maritime Organization" (IMO) has registered several thousand pirate attacks on merchant ships.

According to IMO statistics, particularly successful pirate years were the years 2000 and 2011, each with more than 500 serious raids on the high seas.

The regional focus is the same as in the classic days of piracy: the Caribbean, the African coast and the main Far Eastern fairways in the Indian Ocean.

The Strait of Malacca in particular remains highly dangerous.

There are currently more ships being attacked than in years.

In the first quarter of 2022 alone, the number of attacks doubled compared to the previous year.

Singapore recommends that captains sailing between Europe and North Asia equip their ships with barbed wire and water cannons, secure doors and hatches with steel girders, and equip crews with helmets.

The fact that piracy has increased to such an extent is due to the reduced opportunity costs: dwindling employment opportunities in fishing and restrictions due to Corona are causing the residents of the Indonesian coast to look for alternative business models.

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