Kaieteur News – Late Saturday night, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press release, which stated that it had “… confirmed reports that two registered Guyanese fishing vessels – Lady Nayera and the Sea Wolf – were operating offshore Waini Point within the Exclusive Economic Zone of Guyana, was intercepted by a Venezuelan navy ship Commandante Hugo Chavez GC 24 on Thursday January 21, 2021. The Captains were instructed to follow a course to Port Guiria where the boats and crew have been saved. To date, the Government of Guyana has not been informed by the Venezuela Government about retaining its nationals. A Venezuelan ship was moving illegally within EEZ Guyana and a Border Zone when it intercepted, boarded and comandeered the Guyanese fishing vessels. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is currently trying to establish the status and welfare of crew members. ”
This clear act of provocation by Nicola Maduro’s besieged government follows after a decree was issued two weeks ago claiming, once again, ownership of the Essequibo, and a tweet declaring its intention to ‘conquer’ Guyana’s largest county into the men and women. from Venezuela. Since then, there have been diplomatic exchanges over what has happened but the Government of Guyana has remained unequivocal in its condemnation of the incident.
The confiscation of Guyanese merchant ships by a neighbor is not new, but the kind of relatively low-level provocation previously used to send a signal to Guyana that the attacker – in this case, Venezuela – means business. A similar previous incident involved the seizure, in 2009, of the sugar carrier, MV Lady Chandra 1, by the Surinamese coastal authorities who had gone as far as the Skeldon coast to board the ship and escort her back to Nickerie – this was a year after the UN tribunal ruled in favor of Guyana in our border dispute with our Eastern neighbor. The relations between Guyana and Suriname have been on a much better footing, since with the two countries increasing cooperation in the development of the once disputed area.
It should be noted that the Maduro regime chose to intercept and detain two fishing boats, but stay away from the joint patrol exercises conducted by Guyana and the US navy earlier this month. This shows that there is actually a cautious approach to his apparent madness. However, that does not mean that the madness does not exist.
As this paper has previously edited, starting a saber in Guyana in the face of international condemnation does not begin and, like the episode with Suriname and the seized sugarcane, it probably won’t increase further. Like the confiscation of MV Lady Chandra, condemnatory memos have been sent, and headlines will only be made if Maduro prepares for the land invasion and occupation of the Essequibo – to carry out the crazy ‘development’ plan he has been carrying out promote it – then saber rattling it stays. Maduro’s detention of the two Guyanese fishing boats is largely theater, because the naval ship that intercepted the boats was named in honor of Maduro’s late predecessor, the popular Venezuelan strongman, Hugo Chavez.
Further, if evidence is needed that Maduro has no plan as to how he intends to make meaningful representation to his foreign country on this issue, one must consider that even as he denies the International Court of Justice jurisdiction in determining the issue of the border between the two countries, he has appealed to the International Criminal Court claiming that the international sanctions, especially those imposed by the United States, are crimes against humanity. The Maduro government’s aggressive behavior against a smaller state and the illegal detention of the citizens of that smaller state in furtherance of an unfounded territorial claim, one that Maduro rejects international authority in resolving, may not strengthen his appeal to the ICC.
That is, of course, not to say that we should not take Venezuela’s aggression seriously. Any infringement of the rights of any individual citizen in this country in Guyana’s sovereign territorial space is in itself an act of state aggression and there is no legitimacy in the capture of ships or their crew which means the Maduro government has stolen property . and kidnapping, no matter the fig leaf of having now accused the men in Venezuelan courts. One gets a sense that, in the wake of the Trump administration, the Venezuelan leader has further pursued his government, punishing his regime’s senior executives and companies doing business with him, using Guyana, where there is a Unique Economic Zone significantly American interests act, as a proxy bargaining chip for the relaxation of sanctions by the newly installed Biden administration. And yet, even that seems a manic despair more than a meaningful consideration.
We can be sure that Maduro’s provocation and aggression will continue, even if it is unlikely to increase in real terms. Either way, as we have noted on this editorial page before, Venezuelan aggression offers a meaningful Guyanese reason to cast aside or build differences and unite all our efforts to combat by the thoughtless threat to the West.