The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) says it views with grave concern the reported interception by the Venezuelan navy on Saturday, 22 December 2018 of a seismic research vessel flagged by the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.
“Such acts violate the sovereign rights of Guyana under international law, its entitlement to a territorial sea, Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf, and pose a threat to Guyana’s economic development and national security” a Statement from CARICOM said.
It continued: “The Caribbean Community reiterates its full support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, including its right to peacefully explore and exploit its onshore and offshore resources.”
On Saturday, the Venezuelan Navy intercepted and forced the ExxonMobil research vessel to cease conducting its work in Guyana’s Stabroek Block. This led to Exxon announcing the suspension of seismic data collection.
The US Government has since called on Venezuela to respect Guyana’s sovereignty, with the State Department reiterating in a press release that Guyana has a right to extract its resources from the economic zone. Meanwhile, Venezuela has said it wants talks with Guyana.
In a broadcast on Saturday, Greenidge had condemned the actions of the Venezuelan Navy; actions which he noted were both illegal and aggressive, having occurred in the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Guyana.
According to the Minister, Exxon reported to them that the Venezuelans intercepted the Ramform Tethys vessel at approximately 10:30h on Saturday at N 09 deg 17.19 min / W 058 deg 16.20 min at an approximate distance of 140 kilometres from the nearest point to the provisional equidistant line with Venezuela. Greenidge noted that the vessel had a crew of 70, including the Captain, on board.
“The Government of Guyana rejects this illegal, aggressive and hostile act perpetrated by the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela which once again demonstrates the real threat to Guyana’s economic development by its western neighbour; an act that violates the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be bringing this latest act of illegality and blatant disrespect for Guyana’s sovereignty by Venezuela to the attention of the United Nations,” Greenidge said. “It is also in the process of informing the several Governments of the 70 crew members of the threat to their safety.”
According to Greenidge, the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela would also receive formal communication from the Government of Guyana on the matter.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo on Monday condemned the actions of the Venezuelan Navy.
At a press conference at his office, Jagdeo stressed that Guyana’s territorial integrity was above politics. As such, the former President expressed nothing but support for the Government’s efforts in this arena.
“We condemn this action, on the part of the People’s Progressive Party and the parliamentary Opposition. We condemn it outright and we hope there is no repetition of this action,” Jagdeo said.