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…as Venezuela ramps up threats against Guyana
President Irfaan Ali on Thursday held a meeting with the top brass of the Guyana Defence Force even as Venezuela appears to be ramping up threats against this country.
The Office of the President gave no details on the meeting, but released two photographs of the President and National Security Adviser, Gerry Gouveia and the GDF commanders.
Earlier Thursday, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd assured the National Assembly that the Government of Guyana is working assiduously to have the 12 Guyanese fishermen who have been detained by Venezuela released in the shortest possible time.
Todd disclosed too that efforts are being made via partners in the international community for a peaceful resolution to the issue.
“Guyana has strongly condemned the illegal detention of its citizens and the illegal seizure of their fishing vessels by the Venezuelan navy. As I speak, my Ministry continues to engage the International community to resolve this issue in the most peaceful and diplomatic manner,” the Foreign Affairs Minister told the House.
Last Thursday, the Guyanese registered fishing vessels – Lady Nayera and Sea Wolf – were intercepted by Venezuelan naval vessel, Commandante Hugo Chavez GC 24, off the coast of Waini Point within Guyana Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The crew along with their vessels were illegally detained by the Venezuelan Government and are currently still in detention at Port Guiria.
This act of aggression by Venezuela, followed a decree by its President Nicholas Maduro, approximately three weeks ago, establishing a new maritime territory – “a territory for the development of the Atlantic Façade.”
Minister Todd said since the January 7, 2021 decree, there was increased activity in Guyana’s maritime space by Venezuelan Navy vessels and other Venezuelan State assets.
“Such illegal activity continues to undermine Guyana’s development, by threatening Guyana’s sovereign rights of its maritime space and hindering economic activity,” Minister Todd said.
He noted that during a virtual meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, on January 25, he sought to ascertain the status of the fishing vessels and crew and information on when they will be released.
Several countries and organisations including the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the Commonwealth have come out in strong support of Guyana, while denouncing Venezuela’s violation of international law and practice.
“Individual Member States of CARICOM and the Community as a whole, have denounced the action taken by Venezuela calling upon them to release the crew and vessels. The Organisation of American States has also issued a statement in which it points out that ‘resolution of the territorial…[controversy] between Venezuela and Guyana is a matter that lies under international jurisdiction, and cannot be settled by unilateral action. Any attempt to derail this international legal process such as the decree, issued by the Maduro regime is contrary to international law and standards, and has no legal bearing on significance,’” the Foreign Minister said.
Further, Todd said that Guyana is encouraged that the international community has taken up the matter and has called on Venezuela to release the Guyanese nationals and their fishing vessels. The International Community has also urged Venezuela to desist from actions that violate international law and threaten the peace and stability of the Region.
“Guyana values highly the support which it has received and continues to receive from individual member states of the international community such as Belize, Brazil, Canada, France, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, as well as through regional and international groupings of CARICOM, the OAS, the Commonwealth, the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States and the European Union in its strenuous endeavours to preserve its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.