Hello Europe Podcast Podcast
Regrettably, Montenegrin sailors find it hard to find work
In Montenegro, the thousands of sailors in this tiny Balkan country of 650,000 are sailing the seas of the world, but they could lose their jobs because of international cocaine trafficking.
With our correspondent in Belgrade,
Montenegrin seafarers are acquiring a very bad reputation: that of drug traffickers. At the root of this stigmatization is the proliferation of shipboard seizures on which these sailors work. There have been two very emblematic recent cases: first, the seizure in April in Turkey of 60 kilograms of cocaine on the Jadran , which is none other than the Montenegrin Navy's training ship, but above all, the US police made a record seizure on a container ship in Philadelphia harbor in June of 18 tons of cocaine. Here again, Montenegrin sailors were arrested. Enough is enough. The US administration reportedly told shipping companies that Montenegrin sailors were now undesirable in US cargo ports.
Mistrust around Montenegrin sailors is not limited to North America
According to Janko Milutin of the Montenegrin Sea Masters Association, the bad reputation of the Montenegrin sailors has already reached the Pacific. Milutin even quotes a shipping company that recently dismissed all Montenegrin employees. For now, this is an isolated case, because the other companies have not followed, but the risk is very great for the small country of 650 000 inhabitants, because thousands of its nationals support their family by sailing.
The problem is that a tiny minority hurts a whole trade. The reasons are simple: Montenegro and neighboring Serbia are home to large clans of cocaine trafficking in Europe. For these clans, sailors are interesting contacts, while for the sea worker, the temptation can be very strong. A shipment of cocaine can provide the smugglers with enough money to shelter their families for years in this very poor country.
In the law of the sea, the captain is responsible for what happens on his boat
There have been cases where, for narcotic drugs found on board, the whole crew has been accused or even imprisoned. This is a huge risk for a shipping company, especially since sailors have no way of protecting themselves from this type of activity. In a context where shipping traffic is slowing down, and where some Asian and Pacific maritime countries can provide cheap and skilled labor, the temptation may be strong for a shipowner to sacrifice Montenegrin seafarers. to ensure the activity of its ships.
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