– French ambassador condemns Venezuela’s detention of Guyanese fishermen

The OAS Permanent Council will discuss the Guyana-Venezuela debate today

The Organization of American States (OAS) has put increasing tensions between Guyana and Venezuela on its agenda for discussion at Permanent Council level, in the wake of Venezuela’s recent intervention into Guyana territory and the detention of Guyanese citizens.
According to a brief statement from his Twitter account, the OAS Permanent Council will meet today, at 10:30h, to discuss the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic in the region and “developments related to the Guyana-Venezuela debate.”

Attorney General Anil Nandlall and the French Non-Resident Ambassador to Guyana, Antoine Joly concluded in negotiations

The OAS did not specify what developments it would discuss. However, the Permanent Council meeting comes just days after two Guyanese-registered fishing vessels operating off the coast of Waini Point in the Guyana Unique Economic Zone (EEZ) were intercepted by a Venezuelan navy Commandante Hugo Chavez GC 24.
In fact, a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that a Venezuelan ship was illegally sailing within and adjacent to Guyana’s EEZ zone when it intercepted and boarded the ships, whose captains were instructed to charter a course to Port Guess where they were kept. According to the Ministry, the Guyana Government was not informed of the detention of its nationals, contrary to established norms.
The crew of one of the ships, Lady Nayera, includes Captain Richard Ramnarine and his crew members Ramlakan Kamal, Nick Raghubar, Javin Boston, Michael Domingo and Joel Joseph. The other ship, the Sea Wolf, captained Captain Toney Garraway, while crew members included Errol Gardener, Orland Roberts, Christopher Shaw, Shirvin Oneil and Randy Henry. They have since been brought to court in Venezuelan and reports indicate that they will be held in custody for about 45 days pending an investigation.
The detention of the two ships also comes on the heels of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s recent presidential decree, which reinforced his country’s illegal assertion of Guyana’s Essequibo region.

French condemnation
Meanwhile, French Resident Ambassador to Guyana Antoine Joly paid a courtesy call on Attorney General and Senior Counsel Anil Nandlall. Discussions included legal aid in criminal matters and the use of Guyana as a transhipment point for Haitians traveling to French Guiana. But during the meeting, the Guyana-Venezuela debate was integral to the discussions.
According to a statement from the AG Chambers, Joly condemned Venezuela’s intervention into Guyana territory during the meeting, as well as the arrest and detention of Guyanese fishermen in the Spanish-speaking country.
“Ambassador Joly stated that his country will issue a statement in support of Guyana and the responsible stance the Guyana Government has taken in dealing with the latest act of aggression by Venezuelan authorities,” the statement said.
“The Ambassador condemned the use of force by that country including their latest raid into the territorial waters of Guyana and the arrest and detention of two fishing boats with Guyanese fishermen. He acknowledged the support Guyana has received from the Caricom Community (Caricom) and the global community and is committed to giving a voice to the same. ”
Even as the crew remains in custody, the Government of Guyana has made it clear that it is working to get the men back as soon as possible. Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hugh Todd, held a virtual meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart, Jorge Arreaza on Monday. During the meeting, Arreaza had ensured that the men’s human rights were respected and that he would pursue their early release.
In addition, on Monday, the Minister also called in the Chargé d’Affaires Embassy of the Republic of Venezuela, Moses Chavez, to transfer a protest note from the Guyana Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Venezuela Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also said the Government is using all diplomatic channels to ensure the safe return of crew and 12-member vessels to Guyana.
In a statement issued, Minister Todd took the opportunity of the meeting with Chavez to voice his concerns on the matter. The Foreign Minister also highlighted the regional peace zone and called on Venezuela to act in a manner consistent with the rule of international law.

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