…to arrive home on Thursday – Min Todd
By Jarryl Bryan
The two Guyanese fishing vessels and the 12-member crew, who were illegally detained by Venezuelan authorities almost two weeks ago while fishing in Guyana’s waters, have finally been released.
This was confirmed by Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Hugh Todd in a brief interview with Guyana Times on Tuesday evening. Todd also credited the fishermen’s release to the tireless efforts of President Dr. Irfaan Ali.
Minister Todd also confirmed that the fishermen, who were being detained on their boats – The Lady Nayera and The Sea Wolf – in the Venezuelan port of Guiria, should depart Venezuela this morning and arrive in Guyana by Thursday.
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 onboard Lady Nayera.
Guyana Times also spoke to Kumar Lallbachan, the happy owner of the Lady Nayera, on Tuesday evening. He confirmed the release of the crew and noted that they are presently engaged in packing supplies for their trip.
“Right about now I think they have finished their loading process, loading water and fuel. And they get some groceries. So, they might pull out (by) eight in the morning,” Lallbachan explained to this publication.
“The captain just spoke to me, and he said maybe a three/four days’ trip. Remember is till Trinidad side he deh,” Lallbachan said, adding that the release of the vessels and crew is joyous news.
Amid concerns over food supplies, the Guyana Government had been in the process of taking steps to organise relief for the men while simultaneously working to secure their release.
In an earlier interview with Guyana Times on Tuesday, Minister Todd had explained that he had been in regular contact with his Venezuelan counterpart Jorge Arreaza on the situation.
Minister Todd had said he was informed by the Venezuelan authorities that the detained Guyanese fishermen had enough supplies, but indicated that the Government of Guyana would also play its part.
“I’m told by the Venezuelan authorities that they have supplies to last a week plus. We’re also taking steps to contribute,” Todd had said, adding that the supplies the fishermen have include stocks from the Venezuelans.
The Foreign Minister had also assured that the welfare of the 12 fishermen was a top priority for the Government. According to Todd, news out of Venezuela indicates that the men were well.
On January 21, the two Guyanese-registered fishing vessels and 12-man crew 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. The crew of one of the ships, the Lady Nayera, comprises Captain Richard Ramnarine and crew members Ramlakan Kamal, Nick Raghubar, Javin Boston, Michael Domingo and Joel Joseph.
The other ship, the Sea Wolf, is under charge of Captain Toney Garraway, and the crew members are Errol Gardener, Orland Roberts, Christopher Shaw, Shirvin Oneil and Randy Henry.
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.
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.