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Even as it comes under increasing pressure from the regional and international community to desist from all acts of aggression against Guyana, Venezuela has raised concerns about Caricom for standing with Guyana.
The Nicolas Maduro government has taken issue with Guyana for its joint military exercises being embarked upon by the Guyana Defence Force and the US Coast Guard.
In an official statement issued on Thursday, Venezuela said it has taken note of the “unfounded accusations” made by CARICOM in relation to the decision by Bolivarian National Navy to intercept two Guyanese fishing vessels.
In a strongly worded statement, CARICOM, on Wednesday, had called on the Government of Venezuela to respect Guyana’s territorial integrity and to release, with immediate effect, the Guyanese crew and vessels in detention.
Venezuela, in a reactionary statement, contended that the fishermen were illegally fishing in its jurisdictional waters, but Guyana, in dismissing the contention as baseless, said the vessels were operating off the coast of Waini Point within Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
While attempting to paint itself in good light, Venezuela pointed to recent collaboration between the GDF and the US Coast, which it said is a cause for concern.
“Recently, the Defence Force of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the Coast Guard Service of the United States of America developed joint military exercises in controversial waters, very close to the jurisdictional waters of Venezuela, in an area still to be delimited, and in which US companies have significant economic interests, particularly in the energy field,” Venezuela said while stating that CARICOM should be concerned about this development.
However, the joint exercises, which commenced earlier this month under the Shiprider Agreement, are aimed at illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing off the coast of Guyana, and well within the country’s jurisdiction.
The Spanish speaking country claimed that the CARICOM statement, which called for an end to the acts of aggression against Guyana, has done more harm than good.
“The Caribbean Community (CARICOM), with its communique, not only contributes to an ominous climate of hostility, but also supports the interest of US transnational corporations that seek to take control of an undelimited territory, based on an undesirable conflict in the region,” Venezuela said.
Though it has been called out by the regional and international community for violating International Law, Venezuela said it “will continue to advocate for respect for the principles and purposes of International Law, the promotion of a sincere dialogue to solve any situation that endangers the peace and security of the region and hopes that the sister States of CARICOM will assume a constructive conduct.”
To date, Venezuela has not indicated when it will release the 12 Guyanese fishermen and their vessels, taken into custody since last Thursday. The government and people of Guyana have condemned the actions taken by Venezuela, and continue to urge a safe return of the fishermen.
Importantly, Venezuela’s actions come weeks after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) assumed jurisdiction to adjudicate on the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award, which is at the center of the controversy between Guyana and Venezuela.