Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister, Hugh Todd on Friday met with relatives of the 12 Guyanese fishermen who were detained over two weeks ago, and subsequently released by Venezuelan authorities.
During the visit, the Minister distributed hampers to the families, while assuring that Government will stand with them throughout this ordeal.
The men and their vessels, Lady Nayera and Sea Wolf, were released by Venezuelan authorities and departed on Wednesday morning. They are expected to arrive on Guyana’s shores today. The release was done on the orders of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro himself.
Todd had told Guyana Times earlier this week that their release is credited to the tireless efforts of President Dr Irfaan Ali. Todd had also been in regular contact with his Venezuelan counterpart, Jorge Arreaza, on the situation. He had assured that the welfare of the fishermen was a top priority for the Government.
On January 21, the two vessels were operating off the coast of Waini Point in Guyana’s EEZ when they were intercepted by the Venezuelan naval vessel Commandante Hugo Chavez GC 24, which was illegally traversing Guyana’s waters. The Venezuelans boarded the vessels and the captains were instructed to chart a course to Port Guiria, where they were detained until their release.
In Venezuela, the men were brought before a Venezuelan court, after which reports had emerged that they could be kept in custody for some 45 days pending an investigation. However, Guyana and a number of countries had condemned Venezuela’s actions and urged the Spanish-speaking country to release the fishermen.
Those detained were Toney Garraway, Errol Gardener, Orland Roberts, Christopher Shaw, Shirvin Oniel, and Randy Henry from the Sea Wolf crew. Richard Ramnarine, Ramlakan Kamal, Nick Raghubar, Javin Boston, Michael and Joel Joseph were aboard Lady Nayera.
President Ali had lauded the role played by the Caribbean Community (Caricom), which threw its support behind Guyana when Venezuela first detained the fishermen while they were operating in Guyana’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“We’re expecting the safe return of the vessels and crew back home. And I want to take this opportunity to thank all our international partners, Caricom Heads of Government, for adding their voices in a very strong manner on this issue. This was an effort. This was not an individual role. Caricom, all the Heads of Government, I’m sure that Caricom statement must have had an impact. So, too, all the statements from our bilateral partners and our international partners,” Ali also said.
Last week, the OAS Permanent Council met to discuss, among other things, the tensions between Guyana and Venezuela. During the Permanent Council’s virtual meeting, Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the OAS, Riyad Insanally, informed the Council about the recent actions of Venezuela. A number of countries on the Council took a firm stance against Venezuela, including the United States (US), Canada, Trinidad, Brazil, Antigua and Barbuda and Belize.
The Permanent Council is one of the two main political bodies of the OAS, the other being the General Assembly. The Permanent Council keeps vigilance over the maintenance of friendly relations among the member states, and for that purpose, effectively assists them in the peaceful settlement of their disputes. (G12)