Statement by Hugh Todd, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation at the National Assembly

Thursday January 28, 2021

Colleagues Members of Parliament,

You are aware that the President of the Bolivian Republic of Venezuela announced on January 7, 2021 during a meeting of the National Defense Council that he had established a “new maritime territory” from Venezuela. This territory is known as the “Territory for the development of the Atlantic facade” in order to provide adequate protection and protection of the jurisdiction of the Republic of the Republic of Venezuela “.

Following the announcement of President Maduro’s Decree on 7 January 2021, there was increased activity in Guyana’s maritime space by Venezuelan Navy ships and other Venezuelan State assets. Such illegal activity continues to undermine Guyana’s development, by threatening Guyana’s sovereign rights from its maritime space and impeding economic activity.

Proving this threat is the unfortunate incident of 21 January 2021, when two Guyanese fishing vessels, Lady Nayera and Sea Wolf, were intercepted by a Venezuelan navy Commandante Hugo Chavez GC 24 off the Waini Point coast (far within the territory of Guyana). The crew and the two ships were illegally detained by the Venezuelan Government and are currently still in custody in Port Guiria.

Guyana has strongly condemned the illegal detention of its citizens and the illegal seizure of their fishing vessels by the Venezuelan navy. As I speak, my Ministry continues to engage with the International community to resolve this issue in the most peaceful and diplomatic manner.

At his request, I had a virtual meeting with my Venezuelan counterpart, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, on 25 January 2021, to discuss the retention of the fishing vessels and crew and the status of their release.

The individual Member States of CARICOM and the Community as a whole, have denied the actions taken by Venezuela calling on them to release the crew and ships. The American Provincial Institute has also issued a statement in which it draws attention to the fact that “resolution of the territorial dispute between Venezuela and Guyana is an issue of international jurisdiction, and cannot be settled by unilateral action. Any attempt to dismantle this international legal process as the decree, issued by the Maduro regime is contrary to international law and standards, and has no legal influence on significance. ”

We are encouraged that the international community is seized from this issue and urged Venezuela to release our Guyanese nationals and their fishing vessels and to refrain from acts that violate international law and threaten the peace and stability of the region.

Guyana greatly appreciates the support it has received and continues to receive from individual member states of the international community such as Belize, Brazil, Canada, France, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom and the United States. United States of America, as well as through regional. and international groups from CARICOM, the OAS, the Commonwealth, the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States and the European Union in its vigorous efforts to preserve its sovereignty and territorial integrity.