Last updated Tuesday, 26 January 2021, 1:35 by Denis Chabrol
Venezuela’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza has promised his Guyanese counterpart to pursue the release of the 11 Guyanese crew members who have been detained by Venezuelan authorities since last week on Thursday, the Guyana Foreign Administration said.
Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hugh Todd, was given the commitment during a virtual meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart to discuss the interdiction of Guyanese-registered fishing vessels Lady Nayera and Sea Wolf in Guyanese waters off the Waini coast.
“At the request of Foreign Minister Todd, Minister Arreaza undertook to pursue their early release,” said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Mr Arreaza also ensured that the crew members were treated with the utmost respect for their human rights during their “cordial” discussions which focused on shipping.
It was unclear whether the commitment to follow-up to ensure the early release of crews meant. Already, the Venezuelan Foreign Administration has warned Guyanese to stay out of the waters off the Essequibo Coast that are included in the unilateral extended maritime border.
The Venezuelan Foreign Administration has already claimed that the Navy intercepted Guyanese ships in Venezuelan waters and was assured of due process. Venezuela has also been accused of fishing in its waters illegally and without the necessary documentation.
“The Bolivian Navy operation was carried out in undisputed Venezuelan waters of sovereignty, in full respect of current legislation, guaranteeing due process for detained crew members,” said the Foreign Ministry.
Already, the Venezuelan government has accused them of illegal fishing “in waters of full sovereignty and jurisdiction of Venezuela, without also having any form of legal documentation.”
Earlier on Monday, Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd told the fishing vessel owners that Guyana had sent a protest note to Caracas. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the owners were told they were working the diplomatic channels to free the boats and crews. “We are doing everything we can to reunite crew members with their families and help you continue your business,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs quoted the Minister.
The Foreign Minister promised to stay in touch with the owners and share updates as they happen.
Earlier on Monday, Venezuela issued a strict warning to Guyanese to stay out of the maritime space that has been awarded to Guyana since 1899.