By Caribbean News Global contributor
GEORGETOWN, Guyana – The latest dispute in a long-running border conflict between Guyana and Venezuela has intensified with the Venezuelan navy detaining two vessels that were fishing in Guyana’s exclusive economic zone. Venezuela claims much of eastern Guyana is its territory, a claim that is rejected by Guyana. The Captains were instructed to chart a course to Port Guiria where the boats and crew have been detained.
The ministry of foreign affairs of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana confirmed reports that two Guyanese registered fishing vessels – the Lady Nayera and the Sea Wolf – operating off the coast of Waini Point within Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone, were intercepted by Venezuelan naval vessel Commandante Hugo Chavez GC 24 on Thursday January 21, 2021.
“The Venezuelan vessel was illegally manoeuvring within Guyana’s EEZ and Contiguous Zone when it intercepted, boarded and commandeered the Guyanese fishing vessels,” Guyana’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
“To date, [Sunday 24] the government of Guyana has not been informed by the government of Venezuela of the detention of its nationals, says Department of Information (DPI). The ministry of foreign affairs is currently seeking to ascertain the status and welfare of the crew members.”
The government of Guyana said, “it condemns in the strongest possible terms this wanton act of aggression by the Venezuelan armed forces against Guyana and Guyanese citizens. This Venezuelan action amounts to an interference with the sovereign rights of Guyana in its EEZ, contrary to international law.”
The government of Guyana insists on the immediate release of the crew and vessels and further exhorts the government of Venezuela, and its agents, to behave in a manner consistent with international law and good neighbourly relations.
Guyana noted that Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro this month issued a decree creating a “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 the Venezuelan decree as a flagrant violation of its sovereignty and sovereign rights, and of fundamental rules of international law,” said DPI.