Venezuelan Government

Eteringbang shooting

A week after launching an investigation into an alleged shooting incident in the Cuyuni River, Region Seven

President David Granger
President David Granger

(Cuyuni-Mazaruni), the Venezuelan Government on Friday denied the allegation, saying that officers of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces did not fire any shots at the Guyanese crew.

Through its embassy here, the Spanish-speaking nation said that the news reports carried about the alleged incident are all false, since there have been no such reports.

“It is important to note that the investigations carried out by the Venezuelan military authorities have not reported of any incident in the above-mentioned area and our military units confirm not having carried out any military exercise in that location,” the embassy said.

Following the incident, which occurred on May 30 last, the Venezuela Government launched an investigation, into reports made by officers of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, who said that they were shot at by the Venezuelan soldiers, while travelling in a boat in the Cuyuni River.

However none of the mining officers, nor the captain of the boat were injured in the shooting incident.

The officers were carrying out inspections and monitoring gold mining camps in the Cuyuni area when the Venezuelan soldiers opened fire on them. They were forced to seek cover by lying flat in the boat as the captain sought to get the attention of the Venezuelan troops with whom he is said to be familiar with.

After recognising the captain, the Venezuelan troops ceased fire and asked the GGCM official to identify themselves before they were allowed to proceed.

President Brigadier David Granger has since labelled the situation as unacceptable; however, he also expressed confidence that it will not escalate into an international conflict.

He also indicated that Government, once requested, might consider providing assistance to the Spanish-speaking nation during its time of economic crisis.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry had dispatched a Note Verbale to the Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Ministry conveying its gravest concern over the incident and calling on the Venezuelan Government to desist from such provocative and dangerous actions on Guyana’s border.

During an interview on the ‘Public Interest’, the Head of State explained that while the situation is unfortunate, it should not be a considered a clash between the two States.

“It is localised… It was a local incident and we are not saying that there is no fault but my information is that the rain was falling very heavily and there might have been some misunderstanding with the boat that was taking the officials…,” he stated.

Nonetheless, Granger said that matter is still unacceptable. “It is unacceptable in the relation between two States, on a river owned by Guyana for shots to be fired in a hostile manner,” he expressed.

According to reports however, the Venezuelan soldiers opened fire at the vessel because they suspected it was carrying smuggled fuel and other contraband.

This is not the first time there has been tension at the Guyana/Venezuela border.

Last September, the Venezuelan military dispatched heavily armed troops as well as a gunboat and other heavy artillery to the Cuyuni area. Then in December, a Venezuelan helicopter landed at the Kaikan Airstrip, in Region Seven.