Guyana’s conflict with Venezuela over a disputed border is intensifying after 12 Guyanese fishermen were freed from a Venezuelan jail.
President Irfaan Ali expressed gratitude to Guyana’s regional and international partners for joining in calls for the release of the fishermen who were detained in Venezuela from Jan. 21 for 12 days.
The fishermen along with their vessels, Lady Nayera and Sea Wolf, were intercepted by a Venezuelan navy ship off the coast at Waini Point within Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
Following the detention, Guyana received support from many Caribbean countries, the UK, US, CARICOM, the European Union and the Organization of African Countries.
President Ali said those statements made an impact and contributed to Venezuela releasing the crew and boats who they claimed were fishing illegally in its territorial waters. They appeared in court and were told they would be held for 45 days pending an investigation.
However, following the intervention of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, the case was dropped. The detention occurred as Guyana awaits the start of the substantive hearing of the border case.
Guyana is looking to the International Court of Justice to uphold the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award which settled the land boundary between the two countries. A case management hearing, which has twice been delayed at Venezuela’s request, has been set for Feb. 26.