Fishermen were not in the wrong

– Minister Todd assures family members

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hon. Hugh Todd, today, travelled to Essequibo county to reassure the relatives of the fishermen who were detained by Venezuela that there was nothing to fear as the men were operating in Guyana’s territory.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hon. Hugh Todd speaking with relatives of the 12 seamen

Minister Todd also presented a quantity of food hampers to the families of the 12 seamen, who were intercepted off the coast of Waini Point on January 21 and held for over a week by Venezuelan authorities.

On Tuesday, Guyana was informed that the men and their vessels were released and were preparing to return home. They are expected to be back in Guyana on Saturday.

“What I want you to understand is that what your families were doing was nothing illegal; they were working hard to support their families. So, don’t feel guilty about what happened; it is not your fault, it is not your husband, son, nor son-in-law’s fault. They did not do anything wrong, so give them the support,” the Minister said.  

Minister Todd said the Government understands that the breadwinners’ absence has affected the families and provided the hampers to help sustain them in the interim.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hon. Hugh Todd hands over two hampers to Ms. Judith Williams, aunt of Rondel Shaw.

“We know how it goes. When your families go to sea, there is a particular period of time when they will get paid and come and present you with the cash. But within that period of time, we recognised that you might have needed some support. Also, to let you know that the President himself instructed that you get relief within the period, so that you would not be burdened.

The Foreign Affairs Minister said the enormous support Guyana received from around the world is testament to the fact fishing in Guyana’s waters is legal and recognised internationally.

“The world wanted to make sure that your family’s human rights were not violated and at the same time, that they were not prosecuted for something they were legally doing. The whole world recognised that your family was not doing anything wrong,” he emphasised.

The seamen’s relatives were all elated at the support and are eagerly awaiting their return.

In an invited comment, Ms. Judith Williams, aunt of Mr. Rondel Shaw said she is close to her nephew and his two children.  “I feel very much grateful for the contribution because since he gone, I find it very difficult. So, I was very grateful for the contribution,” she told DPI.

Ms. Cleo Biddar, who is the aunt of fisherman Mr. Joel Joseph, said her family is “relieved” that he is returning home. She also expressed gratitude for the support from the Government.

A pregnant Mrs. Tricia Roberts, wife of Mr. Orlan Roberts, said the days during her husband’s detention were the most difficult.  She too is appreciative of the support.

“I feel grateful because during the situation, it was kind of difficult times because they were supposed to be back in like 16 days, but they were longer than then. And with the situation I am in, I am grateful.”

Mr. Michael Domingo’s wife, Ms. Velda Augustus said her husband is the breadwinner of their home. Fighting back tears, she said his return and the support of the Government are overwhelming.

“The way how it affect my family is very much because he is the only one that bring lil money in the house. It affect me a lot and now that I hear he is coming home I am very happy because the children cry every day, especially the girl, so I am very glad,” she said.

Minister Todd said the fishermen are free to continue plying their trade within Guyana’s territory. He said the Guyana Government is in dialogue with the Venezuelan Government to ensure this.

National Security Advisor, Captain Gerald Gouveia and Region Two Regional Chairman, Ms. Vilma Da Silva also attended the meeting.