Space for dialogue on bilateral relations as Venezuela releases fishermen

Minister Todd

The Government of Guyana has been informed by the Venezuelan authorities that the two Guyanese fishing vessels and their crewmen, which had been detained in Point Guiria, Venezuela since January 21, have been released.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hon. Hugh Todd was informed by Foreign Minister of Venezuela, His Excellency Jorge Arreaza, that all legal proceedings had been discontinued at the request of President Nicolas Maduro.

In an invited comment on Wednesday, Minister Todd told DPI that the Guyana Government appreciates the support of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the international community in helping to secure the release of the seamen and their vessels.

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

“The early release of the vessels provides a political space for dialogue in terms of inter-state relations and I think that it is a good show from the Maduro administration…

“We must commend President Ali for his leadership and direction in this regard, not only in leading Guyana, but also his leadership in the Caribbean Community,” Minister Todd today.

The Lady Nayera and the Sea Wolf were intercepted by Venezuelan naval vessel Commandante Hugo Chavez GC 24, on January 21, while operating off the coast of Waini Point in Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Both crews and vessels were detained  

The release of the fishermen paves the way for dialogue between Guyana and Venezuela on areas of mutual interest such as the COVID-19 pandemic and Venezuelan migration to Guyana.    

“The President made several public statements and all of those statements combined, led to the Venezuelans paying keen attention to our position and it also help to bring attention to this matter from the international community in particular, CARICOM. So, it did help, not on one statement, but all the statement I would argue,” Minister Todd told DPI.

The Guyanese fishermen preparing to return home from Venezuela

Guyana received support from numerous countries including Belize, Brazil, Canada, France, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom and the United States of America. Members of the regional and international community, such as CARICOM, the Organization of American States, the Commonwealth, Organisation of African, Caribbean and Asia-Pacific States and the European Union, also conveyed their support for Guyana.

The detention of the fishermen occurred even as Guyana awaits the start of the substantive hearing of the border case with Venezuela, currently before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).   Guyana is looking to the court to uphold the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award which settled the land boundary between British Guiana and Venezuela. President Ali said on Saturday that his Government is fully committed to the ICJ process and will do all in its power to vigorously protect Guyana’s territorial integrity.

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