Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hugh Todd, confirmed with Guyana Standard moments ago that the fishermen who were illegally detained by Venezuelan naval forces last month, have been released and are expected to return to their homeland by Friday.
In a brief comment, Minister Todd said, “As far as I am aware, the men are in good health and will leave Venezuela tomorrow morning. This release was possible thanks to the leadership of our President, Dr. Irfaan Ali.”
During his most recent address to the nation, the Head of State condemned the abduction of Orlando Roberts, Richard Ramnarine, Ramlakan Kamal, Joel Joseph, and Javin Boston, who were plying their trade via registered fishing vessels – the Lady Nayera and the Sea Wolf – which were operating off the coast of Waini Point within Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone. They were intercepted by Venezuelan naval vessel, Commandante Hugo Chavez GC 24, on Thursday, January 21, 2021. The Captains were instructed to chart a course to Port Guiria where the boats and crew were detained.
Ali had said this incursion constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of Guyana over its maritime spaces. He had also bemoaned the fact that the crew and the fishing vessels were still being detained despite Guyana’s formal protest to the Venezuelan authorities through diplomatic channels.
Further to this, Ali was keen to note that Guyana is not averse to engaging Venezuela on bilateral matters in which both have a common interest. In this regard, he had said that this would include dealing with the increasing number of Venezuelans now seeking refuge in Guyana, as well as how both nations might collaborate in contending with the COVID-19 pandemic. Ali was keen to note however that such discussions while welcomed, especially if the United Nations wishes to play a good offices role, will have to be preceded by a clear demonstration by Venezuela that it will desist from any further acts of aggression against Guyana, starting with the release of the Guyanese fishermen and their vessels.
Following the illegal detention of the fishermen, Chief-of-Staff, Brigadier Godfrey Bess, had said that Venezuelan naval forces were cited in Guyana’s waters four days ago. He had said too, that the Guyana Defence Force would have stepped up its monitoring accordingly.