The Government of Belize has thrown its full support behind Guyana after Venezuela abducted two Guyanese fishing vessels with 12 fishermen last week and charged them for fishing in this country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
“Belize called for the immediate release of the illegally detained Guyanese nationals and their vessels and urged the Government of Venezuela to respect international law and ensure a peaceful resolution of this incident,” the Belizean Government said in a statement on Tuesday.
The CARICOM country said that after it was made aware that the Guyanese fishermen were detained by the Venezuelan Navy, its Foreign Affairs Minister, Eamon Courtenay met with the Venezuelan Ambassador to Belize, Gerardo Argote to register Belize’s concern over the incident.
“Minister Courtenay took the opportunity to condemn this latest flagrant violation of Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by Venezuela,” the statement read.
The sister CARICOM country also used the opportunity to call for the “immediate release” of the “illegally detained” Guyanese and their vessels, and urged the Venezuelan government to respect international law and ensure a peaceful resolution.
Belize said that since the detention, its Foreign Affairs Minister has been in close contact with Guyana’s Foreign Minister, Hugh Todd, monitoring the situation.
“Belize reiterates its unequivocal support for Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and the process underway before the International Court of Justice to finally and peacefully resolve the controversy between the two countries,” the Belizean government added.
On Saturday, the Government announced that two Guyanese registered fishing vessels – the Lady Nayera and the Sea Wolf – were intercepted by Venezuelan naval vessel Commandante Hugo Chavez GC 24, on Thursday, and its crews had been detained.
The two vessels were operating off the coast of Waini Point in Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) – an area Venezuela continues to lay claim to.
The Guyana Government said in its statement on Saturday that after the vessels were intercepted, the Captains were instructed to chart a course to Port Guiria where the boats and crew have been detained.
The Government of Guyana has since insisted on the “immediate release of the crew and vessels”.
“It further exhorts the Government of Venezuela, and its agents, to behave in a manner consistent with international law and good neighborly relations,” the Government has said.
This latest act of aggression by the Spanish-speaking country follows recent hostility by that country’s President, Nicolas Maduro. Maduro recently sought to establish “a new maritime territory of Venezuela called ‘Territory for the development of the Atlantic Façade’”, encompassing Guyana’s territorial waters, EEZ and continental shelf, as well as its land territory west of the Essequibo River.
The Guyana Government reiterated that it emphatically condemns Maduro’s decree and views it as a “flagrant violation” of this country’s sovereignty and sovereign rights, and of fundamental rules of international law.