Guyana engages regional, international community over Venezuela’s aggression

Fighter jets in Guyana’s airspace

Government has already engaged the regional and international community over the acts of aggression by Venezuela – the most recent being the unauthorised entry of two fighter jets into the country’s airspace this week.

Head of State, Dr Irfaan Ali

In putting up a strong fight against these actions, President Irfaan Ali asserted on Thursday during the sidelines of an event that foreign counterparts have condemned the recent events. Moreover, they have thrown their support behind Guyana.
“In relation to these acts of aggression by Venezuela, we have reached out to bilateral partners, regional partners. We have continuously engaged the international community. Yesterday, I personally would have reached out and shared this information, shared our concerns. The international and regional community has reiterated their strong support for us and their condemnation for what Venezuela is doing,” the Head of State said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd meeting virtually with acting Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs of the US State Department, Julie Chung

Venezuela’s threats come as the border controversy case sits at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The Court is expected to set various timelines by which Guyana and Venezuela will have to make their respective submissions in the case. The border controversy arose after the Spanish-speaking country claimed two-thirds of Guyana’s territory – the Essequibo region – after an international tribunal settled the boundary between the two neighbours in the 1899 Arbitral Award, which all parties accepted.
Nevertheless, Ali said close monitoring would continue and Government would not be discussing issues outside of the Court.
“We will continue to work closely with the international community and regional partners and maintain strong monitor of the situation,” he told the media.
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Hugh Todd also met virtually with acting Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs of the US State Department, Julie Chung on Tuesday.
Todd conveyed his gratitude for the continued support Guyana has received from the US on border controversy. The Minister further informed of the recent actions of Venezuela, including the incursion into Guyana’s airspace, which resulted in the issuance of a protest note.
In a statement from the Ministry, it was stated that acting Assistant Secretary Chung conveyed her optimism for relations between Guyana and the US. Chung noted that the Biden Administration was focused on democracy, values, human rights, and climate change – commonalities which the US shares with Guyana.
On Tuesday, at least one of the jets were filmed flying over Eteringbang in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni). The video showing the jet, a Russia-made twin-engine Sukhoi SU-30 fighter aircraft, flying over some trees was reportedly captured by a miner and sparked much speculation when it made the rounds on social media.
Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Chief-of-Staff, Brigadier General Godfrey Bess had only said that the Force had stepped up its vigilance and Guyanese could be assured that the borders were secure. The Foreign Affairs Ministry subsequently issued a statement in which it condemned Venezuela’s actions as the latest in a series of intimidatory and lawless acts.
“The fighter jets circled the location once before proceeding in an easterly direction. The Government of Guyana condemns this latest act of aggression by the Venezuelan armed forces as a violation of the sovereignty of Guyana over the air above its territory,” the Ministry said.
In the statement, it reminded that this latest act of hostility follows on the heels of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s decree on January 7, reiterating Venezuela’s unlawful claim to Guyana’s maritime space, including its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and land territory west of the Essequibo River.
The incursion into Guyana’s territory using these jets, the Ministry said, is a clear indication that “the Government of Venezuela is prepared to use aggression and intimidation to accomplish what cannot be accomplished by legal means – the surrender by Guyana of its patrimony. The Government of Guyana exhorts the Government of Venezuela, and its agents, to behave in a manner consistent with international law and good neighbourly relations,” the statement said.
This latest incident was reported a little over a month after Venezuela illegally detained 12 Guyanese fishermen in Guyana’s maritime space. On January 21, two Guyana-registered fishing vessels, Lady Nayera and Sea Wolf were operating off the coast of Waini Point in Guyana’s EEZ when they were intercepted by the Venezuelan naval vessel Commandante Hugo Chávez GC 24, which was illegally traversing Guyana’s waters.
On February 2, the fishermen were released on the orders of the Venezuelan President himself, with the legal proceedings against them discontinued. (G12)