Decision to release Guyanese fishermen intended to maintain  peace – Venezuela says

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The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela said the decision to release the 12 Guyanese fishermen was in acknowledgement of the need to maintain a Zone of Peace.

“The Venezuelan Government wishes to recognise that this MOTU PROPRIO measure of grace constitutes a genuine initiative in favour of peace, responding to the most sincere interest that the Caribbean remains a Zone of Peace, to which was added the intermediation of CARICOM, through its chairman and Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Keith Rowley, as well as the good offices of the Prime Ministers of Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Vincent and the Grenadine, Gaston Browne and Ralph Gonsalves, respectively, in favour of stability of the region and the good coexistence as neighbours,” an official statement issued by Venezuela stated.

In the statement, Venezuela claimed that the fishermen and their vessels – Lady Nayera and the Sea Wolf – were found within its territorial waters, however, Guyana has long maintained that the fishermen 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).

In the statement, Venezuela expressed a willingness to settle any controversy in keeping with the principles of international law and respect for each other.

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Trinidad, as the sitting Chair of CARICOM, teamed up with Guyana and other Member States to pressure Venezuela into releasing the fishermen who were detained by the Venezuelan military.

After more than a week, the fishermen and their vessels were set free by the Nicholas Maduro Administration on Wednesday. They arrived at Charity on the Essequibo Coast on Saturday, and reported that they were not harassed or brutalized while in Venezuela.

“As Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs I called in the Ambassador of Venezuela to POS to convey the serious concerns of CARICOM and T&T at the detention of the Guyanese fishermen and vessels, I emphasised that we maintain full solidarity with Guyana on the issue, and underlined that the detentions could have negative implications on the peace and security of the entire region,” Trinidad’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Amery Browne told Village Voice News on Wednesday.

Dr. Browne said he also engaged in frank and direct discussions with Venezuela’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jorge Arreaza, on multiple occasions during the period of the detentions.

“Minister Arreaza is completely fluent in English [and] he made himself available for dialogue at all times and he consistently conveyed his government’s interest in finding solutions to the crisis,” Dr. Browne said.

The Trinidadian Foreign Minister made it clear that all aspects of his own involvement in the matter were guided by the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, and Chairman of CARICOM, Dr. Keith Rowley.

“[It was also] shaped by Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Hugh Todd with whom I have developed an excellent understanding and friendship. Every time I spoke with Ambassador Carlos Perez Silva or Minister Arreaza I would check-in with Minister Todd to ensure that the efforts in Port of Spain were in synch with the work being done on this matter by the Government of Guyana,” he further explained.

He noted too that Prime Minister Rowley maintained a constant stream of communication with President Irfaan Ali, with other CARICOM colleagues, and with the leadership in Venezuela.

Asked whether Venezuela had set any precondition for the release of the fishermen and their vessels, Minister Browne responded in the negative. He also indicated that no assurances was given by the Government of Venezuela that it will not enter Guyana’s maritime space inclusive of the EEZ.



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