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Following the hijacking of two Guyanese registered fishing vessels by the Venezuela military the two countries Foreign Affairs ministers are to meet Monday afternoon to address the issue.
In a statement Monday the Guyana Government announceGuyana Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hugh Toddd that Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd, will later on Monday meet virutally with his Venezuelan counterpart H.E. Jorge Arreaza, Minister of the People’s Power for Foreign Affairs of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to discuss the status of Guyanese registered fishing vessels – the Lady Nayera and the Sea Wolf and crew which were detained on January 21, 2021 by Venezuelan naval vessel Commandante Hugo Chavez GC 24. The vessels were at the time operating off the coast of Waini Point, well within Guyana’s territory. The crew members and vessels are currently illegally detained at Port Guiria, Venezuela.
The Foreign Minister of Guyana will confine his discussion with the Foreign Minister of Venezuela specifically to the welfare and release of the crew, their catch, and vessels, the statement added.
In another act of aggression, Venezuelan authorities last week intercepted two Guyanese registered fishing vessels, which were operating within Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Guyanese nationals, who were on the fishing boats, remain in the custody of Venezuela.
In a statement late Saturday night, Guyana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the two vessels – the Lady Nayera and the Sea Wolf – which were operating off the coast of Waini Point within Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone, were intercepted by Venezuelan naval vessel Commandante Hugo Chavez GC 24.
The incident is reported to have occurred last Thursday (January 21, 2021).
“The captains were instructed to chart a course to Port Guiria where the boats and crew have been detained,” the Foreign Ministry said.
To date, the Government of Guyana has not been informed by the Government of Venezuela of the detention of its nationals.
“The Venezuelan vessel was illegally manoeuvring within Guyana’s EEZ and Contiguous Zone when it intercepted, boarded and commandeered the Guyanese fishing vessels,” the Foreign Minister said while noting that it is currently seeking to ascertain the status and welfare of the crew members.
This latest act of aggression by the President Nicolas Maduro Administration has been strongly condemned by the Government and people of Guyana.
“Guyana condemns in the strongest possible terms this wanton act of aggression by the Venezuelan armed forces against Guyana and Guyanese citizens. This Venezuelan action amounts to an interference with the sovereign rights of Guyana in its EEZ, contrary to international law,” the Foreign Affairs Ministry said.
Venezuela’s illegal interception and interference with the sovereign rights of Guyana in its EEZ, comes approximately two weeks after the Spanish speaking country claimed exclusive sovereign rights in the waters and seabed adjacent to Guyana’s coast, west of the Essequibo River, which also form part of the EEZ.
“It is noted that this latest hostility follows closely on the heels of a Decree recently issued by President Nicolas Maduro which purports to establish “a new maritime territory of Venezuela called ‘Territory for the development of the Atlantic Façade’”, encompassing Guyana’s territorial waters, EEZ and continental shelf, as well as its land territory west of the Essequibo River,” the Ministry said while emphatically condemning the Venezuelan Decree as a flagrant violation of Guyana’s sovereignty and sovereign rights, and of fundamental rules of international law.
The Government of Guyana is demanding the immediate release of the crew and vessels. “It further exhorts the Government of Venezuela, and its agents, to behave in a manner consistent with international law and good neighbourly relations,” the Ministry said.
It has pledged to inform the international community on all actions taken by Venezuela to undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Guyana.
These acts of aggression, which continue to be condemned by regional and international organisations come even though the issue regarding the 1899 Arbitral Award, which legally established the location of the land boundary between then British Guiana and Venezuela, is currently before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and for which, the Court, on December 18, 2020, ruled that it has jurisdiction to determine the validity of the award.