Pirates of the Caribbean: How Venezuela’s near collapse is causing a crisis on the seas

Brian Austin, a fisherman from the small village of Cedros in Trinidad, is struggling to describe the men who robbed him out at sea last year. ‘They had guns, they wore T-shirts and hoods.’ Then he brightens: ‘Have you ever seen Somali pirates? They looked just like that.’

I have indeed seen Somali pirates, as it happens, and rather closer up than I’d have liked. Ten years ago, a bunch of them kidnapped me for six weeks while I was out reporting. That was in Somalia, though, a failed state where anything goes. I never expected to be writing about a plague of pirates here in the Caribbean.