By Kurt Campbell
The wives – some pregnant – and the children – many school-aged – of the Guyanese fishermen detained in Venezuela, are growing alarmingly concerned about their welfare with the latest news out the neighbouring country indicating that the men could remain in detention for another 45 days pending an investigation.
Kumar Lalbachan, the owner of the vessels – the Lady Nayera and the Sea Wolf – which is also detained along with the 12 fishermen, said the crew appeared in Venezuelan Court on Monday and although they were not charged with any offence, they were told that they could spend several weeks in detention as authorities in Venezuela was granted 45 days to conduct an investigation.
The information was conveyed to family members on Tuesday who are now further unnerved by the men’s “needless” detention despite efforts at the diplomatic level to have them released.
On Thursday, January 21, 2021, the two vessels were intercepted by Venezuelan naval vessel Commandante Hugo Chavez, while operating off the coast of Waini Point, in Guyana’s waters.
Those detained are Toney Garraway, Errol Gardener, Orland Roberts, Christopher Shaw, Shirvin Oniel, and Randy Henry from the Sea Wolf crew; those detained from the Lady Nayera crew are Richard Ramnarine, Ramlakan Kamal, Nick Raghubar, Javin Boston, Michael and Joel Joseph.
Speaking with the News Room on Tuesday, the wife of Orland Roberts, Trisha, said she heard from him on Tuesday last informing her that he was at Waini, the same area where the men were detained two days later.
Trisha said she received a WhatsApp message on Friday last asking for pictures of his Identification Card which she had to send to a specific telephone number.
Trisha, who is currently pregnant, said Roberts has been a fisherman for some 15 years. Roberts has another three-year-old child with Trisha, who she said is also inquiring about his whereabouts.
Meanwhile, a crying Sandra Singh is also pleading for the release of her husband, Ramlakan Kamal.
“Right now me glad to talk to he because right now we nah have thing to cook, yesterday my sister came and buy some sugar and flour for we, since he gone bout 13 days now, we nah hear from he,” she added.
Kamal has three children. The News Room also spoke briefly with Toney Garraway’s wife, Anisa, who is also pregnant and suffers from complications relating to asthma.
She said apart from the reports in the media, she has no other information on her husband. Anisa said she was concerned about the length of time that the men have been at sea and now detained with limited food and water.
Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza, has assured that the crew members were being treated with utmost respect for their human rights. During a virtual meeting with Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd on Monday, Arreaza undertook to pursue the early release of the men.
There is still no clear indication on when that would be as Venezuela insists that the men were fishing in waters that Venezuela now claims to be theirs. Guyana maintains that the Venezuelan vessel was illegally manoeuvring within Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Contiguous Zone when it intercepted, boarded and commandeered the Guyanese fishing vessels.
On Monday, Todd dispatched a note of protest to the Venezuela authorities. Todd summoned the Chargé d’ Affaires of the Embassy of Venezuela, Mr. Moses Chavez, to transfer the protest note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Guyana to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela.
The protest note firmly condemned the illegal detention of the captains and crews of the Guyanese registered fishing vessels and called for their immediate release.
It is noted that this latest hostility follows closely on the heels of a Decree recently issued by President Nicolas Maduro which purports to establish “a new maritime territory of Venezuela called Territory for the development of the Atlantic Façade”, encompassing Guyana’s territorial waters, EEZ and continental shelf, as well as its land territory west of the Essequibo River.
Guyana has emphatically condemned this Venezuelan Decree as a flagrant violation of its sovereignty and sovereign rights, and of fundamental rules of international law.