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– Ambassador Insanally tells OAS, as he condemns Maduro’s acts of aggression, detention of fishermen
No State can unilaterally determine its international boundaries, whether they are land or maritime, Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the Organisation of American States (OAS) Ambassador Riyad Insanally has said. He rejected the decree issued by Venezuela’s President Nicholas Maduro as patently absurd, and condemned the illegal detention of Guyanese fishermen by the Venezuelan authorities.
“….no State can unilaterally determine its international boundaries, whether they are land or maritime boundaries. The fixing of an international boundary under international law can only result from an agreement between neighbouring States or a binding determination by an international court or arbitral award,” Ambassador Insanally said in his address at the OAS Regular Session of the Permanent Council on Wednesday.
On January 7 Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro, issued a decree, purporting to establish a new maritime territory of Venezuela called the “Territory for the development of the Atlantic Façade” and claiming for Venezuela, “sovereignty and exclusive sovereign rights in the waters and seabed adjacent to Guyana’s coast, west of the Essequibo River”.
In iterating Guyana’s rejection of the decree, Ambassador Insanally said it was most regrettable that on the very day the Venezuelan President dispatched a letter to the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres rejecting the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ )to rule upon the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award.
“Mr. Maduro’s decree is patently absurd and a decidedly unneighbourly and hostile act. This effort by Venezuela to attempt unilaterally to redraw its borders and annex Guyana’s land and maritime areas, is a legal nullity and an act of aggression, which should not and cannot be tolerated by any other State in the world,” Guyana’s OAS Permanent Representative said.
He said to further compound the already tense relation between the two countries, Venezuelan Naval Vessel Commandante Hugo Chavez GC 24, illegally intercepted two Guyanese registered fishing vessels – the Lady Nayera and the Sea Wolf – which were operating off the coast of Waini Point within Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) last Thursday.
The Guyanese civilian Captains were instructed to chart a course to Port Güiria, in Venezuela, where the boats and crews have been detained and to date have not been released.
Ambassador Insanally made it clear that the Venezuelan vessel was illegally manoeuvring within Guyana’s EEZ and Contiguous Zone when it intercepted, boarded and commandeered the Guyanese fishing vessels.
“Guyana has registered to the Government of Venezuela its protest, in the strongest possible terms, at these unlawful and aggressive actions by the Government of Venezuela against the State and people of Guyana and has insisted upon the immediate release and return of the two Guyanese vessels and their crews,” he told the OAS.
He added: “It is regrettable that the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has chosen to resort to the unilateral use of military force to assert its territorial claims and maritime jurisdiction – which Guyana regards as entirely baseless and contrary to international law – rather than honour its commitment, under the 1966 Geneva Agreement, to have the controversy resolved, in a peaceful, final and binding manner, by the International Court of Justice.”
Ambassador Insanally iterated calls by Guyana for Venezuela to participate fully in the ICJ proceedings, as international law requires, and to accept its final Judgment, as it is obligated to do under the United Nations Charter.
The OAS, in a statement, has also demanded the immediate release of the Guyanese fishermen and their vessels. Belize, US, Canada, CARICOM and the Commonwealth have also issued statements condemning the increasing acts of aggression by Venezuela against Guyana.