Venezuela told not to interfere with Guyanese fishermen- President Ali
By Isanella Patoir
Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces and President of Guyana, Dr Irfaan Ali says Venezuela has been told in clear terms that it has no authority to detain fishing crews and vessels working in Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
After two weeks of illegally detaining a 12-member Guyanese fishing crew and two of their vessels, Venezuela finally released the men on Tuesday and ceased all legal proceedings.
When asked by reporters at the sidelines of an event on Wednesday evening whether Venezuela has given any assurance that such an incident will not occur in the future, President Ali said: “In the statement, we made reference to this that we are looking forward to Venezuela acting responsibly and not continue along this line and interfering with fishermen or anyone who is conducting business in our EEZ.
“We have made it very clear that we are not asking for their [Venezuela] assurances. This is our right, our EZZ is our right and we will continue to facilitate the economic activity in our EEZ.”
The decision to release the fishing vessels and its crew was made by Venezuelan President, Nicolás Maduro.
President Ali expressed thanks to international and regional partners who played a role in facilitating the safe release of the vessels and crew.
“We have been informed that the vessels would have left and we are expecting the safe return of the vessels and crew back home.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank all our international partners, CARICOM heads of government and all our other international partners for adding their voices in a very strong manner on this very important issue,” the President said.
While the release of the vessels and crew will help to mend issues with the two countries, President Ali firmly stated that the Guyana/Venezuela border controversy is not up for discussion. The case is currently before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The court last December ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear case.
“That is an issue that is not up for discussion and we have made our position very clear on that, but if we have issues, as good neighbours whether it’s COVID-19 and so on we are willing to discuss those issues,” the President said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd, in a statement noted that all legal proceedings against the crew have been discontinued.
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.
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.