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…given water, food and fuel and set free
…owner of fishing vessel sings praises to Guyanese Government for a job well done
By Svetlana Marshall
The 12 Guyanese fishermen, who were illegally detained by the Venezuelan Military for close to two weeks, were given water, food and fuel, and set free by the Venezuelan Government, on Wednesday.
According to a source from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there were no preconditions set for the release of the men and the Government is pleased that good sense has prevailed.
“No preconditions. Decision to release them stemmed from a decision from the Venezuelan Government,” the source told Village Voice News on Wednesday.
The fishermen and their vessels – the Lady Nayera and the Sea Wolf – were illegally detained on January 21 when they were unlawfully intercepted by the Venezuelan Naval Vessel Commandante Hugo Chavez GC 24 off the coast of Waini Point within Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The crews and the fishing vessels were escorted to Port Guiria in Venezuela, where they were held for close to two weeks.
Village Voice News was also informed that there were two additional vessels and crews intercepted by the Venezuelan military, and were also released on Wednesday but the source from the Foreign Affairs Ministry was unable to confirm.
“No official information from Venezuelan authorities on any other vessel,” the source said.
In a telephone interview with Village Voice News on Wednesday, owner of Lady Nayera, Kumar Lalbachan said he was overwhelmed with joy when he received a phone call from his captain, indicating that the Venezuelan Government had taken a decision to release the fishermen, including the captain.
He said based on information provided by the captain, there were two other vessels and crews that were detained by the Venezuelan authorities but they were released at the same time with the other fishermen.
Lalbachan, who owns Big Bird & Sons Fish Port Complex at Charity on the Essequibo Coast, said based on informed released the fishermen were not harmed during their detention in Venezuela.
He said before departing Venezuela, they were given essential supplies, reportedly by the Venezuelan Government.
“They get water, they get groceries, before they leave, and fuel also…the Venezuelan Government gave them that,” Lalbachan told Village Voice News.
He estimates that the fishermen and their vessels will take approximately three days and nights to reach Charity, however, once they arrive at Waini Point, his captain will make contact with him.
Lalbachan, who said he is excited to reunite with his crew and vessel, said the Government of Guyana must be applauded for the safe return of the men.
“The Government worked tremendously to get them released; it is through the Government that we got those boats released, nobody else,” Lalbachan said.
He added: “We are very happy and we want to thank them so much. We have a good government. This what happened here never happened in history, many boats were taken away in Venezuela, many boats and lost, so this is a world record what happened today.”
According to him, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hugh Todd is expected to travel to the Essequibo Coast on Friday to present the families of the fishermen with hampers. He is hopeful that the fishermen would arrive in Charity on Friday also.
The incursion by Venezuelan armed forces into Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the arrest and detention of the fishermen were viewed as a flagrant violation of international law and the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of Guyana over its maritime spaces.
The act of aggression displayed by Venezuela was condemned by the Government and People of Guyana. Through diplomatic channels, the country had moved to advise its sister-states in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the international community, including the Organization of American States – the OAS, the Commonwealth and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States on Venezuela’s posture and disregard for international law.
The Regional and International Communities had also come out in full support for Guyana, with CARICOM rejecting any and all acts of aggression by Venezuela. Other nations, including the United States of America and Canada, also indicated their concern about this further threat to Guyana.