Maduro ordered release of Guyanese fishermen, halted legal proceedings

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The decision to release the two detained Guyanese fishing vessels and send home its 12-member crew was made by Venezuelan President, Nicolás Maduro himself, a statement from Guyana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation noted on Wednesday.

“The Foreign Minister of Venezuela, His Excellency Jorge Arreaza confirmed to Foreign Minister Hon. Hugh Hilton Todd that all legal proceedings had been discontinued at the request of His Excellency Nicolás Maduro,” the statement noted.

On Tuesday, the Venezuelan Foreign Minister had informed Minister Todd that the fishing vessels – Lady Nyera and Sea Wolf – that had been detained since January 21, 2021, in Port Guiria have been released. The vessels set sail for Guyana early on Wednesday.

The vessels with the Guyanese fishermen in Venezuela about to depart for Guyana Wednesday morning (Photo: DPI/February 3, 2021)

“The Government of Guyana appreciates the efforts of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community and of the wider international community in securing the release of the crew and vessels. His Excellency President Irfaan Ali was tireless in his efforts to ensure the safe and speedy return of the crew to their families,” the statement added.

Earlier on Wednesday, in a video interview released by the Department of Public Information (DPI), Todd said he sees their release as consistent with international law and norms.

Todd believes the men’s release now opens the door for the two countries, although sharing a border controversy, to work on other bilateral matters.

“The early release of the vessels provides political space for dialogue and I think it is a good show from the Maduro administration and we must commend them and at the same time we must commend His Excellency, President Ali for leadership in this regard,” the Foreign Minister said.

In addition to the false claim that the men were in their waters, Venezuela also accused the crew of having among their catch the protected species of the hammerhead shark, a fish that is prohibited from being trawled.

Venezuela had been under mounting regional and international pressure to release the men.

Guyana continues to maintain that the men were arrested and detained while fishing in waters well within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Those who were detained are: Toney Garraway, Errol Gardener, Orland Roberts, Christopher Shaw, Shirvin Oniel, and Randy Henry from the Sea Wolf crew; those who were detained from the Lady Nayera crew are Richard Ramnarine, Ramlakan Kamal, Nick Raghubar, Javin Boston, Michael and Joel Joseph.

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