CARICOM calls for release of Guyanese fishermen
GEORGETOWN – The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has added its voice to calls for the immediate release of the Guyanese fishing boats and crew detained by Venezuelan authorities.
In a statement issued late Wednesday, CARICOM expressed grave concern about the escalation of tensions between the two countries, caused by the interception and detention of the two vessels, the Lady Nayera and the Sea Wolf, and the 12 seamen by a Venezuelan naval vessel on January 21.
The Guyana government said the boats were intercepted when they were off the coast of Waini Point, within the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone, and the captains were instructed to make their way to Port Guiria in Venezuela.
Recalling its statement of January 12, in which it had firmly repudiated any acts of aggression by Venezuela against Guyana, CARICOM on Wednesday urged Caracas to “respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Guyana and to desist from aggressive acts that will seriously undermine the peace and security not only of Guyana and Venezuela but the entire Caribbean region”.
“The Caribbean Community calls for the immediate release of the crew members and vessels,” the statement concluded.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Organisation of American States (OAS) demanded the prompt release of the boats and crew as it condemned “the illegal detention by the Venezuelan dictatorship”.
On Monday, Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hugh Todd issued a protest note to Chargé d’Affaires of the Venezuelan Embassy Moses Chavez, firmly condemning the illegal detention of the captains and crews and calling for their immediate release.
Minister of People’s Power for Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza subsequently undertook to pursue the crew’s early release.
The owners of the detained boats in Guyana have said they made contact with the crews who reported that they had appeared in court, though not yet charged with anything, and authorities were given 45 days to investigate the matter.
Venezuela has claimed the men were illegally fishing in its territorial waters. (CMC)