Guyana firm against Venezuela aggression, seizure of seamen, fishing vessels

– Minister Todd tells National Assembly

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hon. Hugh Todd, says Guyana remains resolute in condemning the illegal detention by Venezuela of two fishing vessels and 12 seamen, who were captured by the Venezuelan Navy in Guyana’s waters on January 21.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hon. Hugh Todd

The Minister made this statement while updating the National Assembly on the increasing Venezuelan aggression against Guyana.

“We have strongly condemned the illegal detention of … citizens and illegal seizure of the fishing vessels by the Venezuelan Navy. As we speak, we continue to engage the international community to resolve this issue in the most peaceful and diplomatic way,” he said.

Minister Todd said Venezuela’s latest action against Guyana follows the January 7, 2021 decree by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro claiming Guyana’s maritime space.

The Venezuelan President, during a meeting of the National Defence Council, said he had established “a new maritime territory” of Venezuela called “Territory for the development of the Atlantic Façade in order to provide adequate protection and safeguard the jurisdiction of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.”

Soon after, Minister Todd said, “there was increased activity in Guyana’s maritime space by Venezuelan Navy vessels and other Venezuelan State assets.

“Such illegal activity continues to undermine Guyana’s development, by threatening Guyana’s sovereign rights of its maritime space and hindering economic activity.”

The Venezuelan Navy intercepted the Lady Nayera and the Sea Wolf and their crews off the coast at Waini Point in Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Minister Todd said he has since met his Venezuelan counterpart, His Excellency Jorge Arreaza, Minister of the People’s Power for Foreign Affairs, to discuss the illegal detention of the crews, their vessels and the status of their release.

Additionally, the Minister said Guyana continues to receive support from the international community on this matter.

“Guyana values the support which it has received and continues to receive from Heads of States such as Belize, Brazil, Canada, France, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom and the United States of America as well as through the regional and international community such as CARICOM, OAS, Commonwealth, Organization of African, Caribbean and Asia-Pacific States and the European Union.”

The OAS in a statemented issued on Wednesday reminded Venezuela that the resolution of the boundary issue between Venezuela and Guyana is “a matter that lies under international jurisdiction, and cannot be settled by unilateral actions. Any attempt to derail this international legal process, such as the decree issued by the Maduro regime, is contrary to international law and standards, and has no legal bearing or significance.”

The United States has denounced Venezuela’s actions. Ms. Julie Chung, Acting Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs in the US State Department in a Twitter post on her official account said: “The U. S. supports a peaceful resolution of the maritime boundary controversy between Venezuela and Guyana and condemns Maduro’s intimidation through the seizure of fishing vessels and detention of crew. 

“We echo the OAS Secretariat’s call for their release without delay.”

President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, in an address to the nation on January 9, regarding Venezuela’s decree said it is a “legal nullity” which will not be recognised by any state in the world.   The border issue is currently before the International Court of Justice where Guyana is seeking a final judgement to uphold the 1899 Arbitral Award.