Venezuela yet to confirm seizure of 3rd Guyanese fishing vessel – Todd

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Minister of Foreign Affairs Hugh Todd

Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd says Guyana is still awaiting official confirmation from Venezuelan authorities as it relates to reports of a third Guyanese fishing vessel being seized.

It was reported that the Guyana-registered fishing boat ‘Miss Annie’ – GR972360 – and its seven-member crew were detained by the Venezuelan military on Monday.

River patrol ranks of the Venezuelan National Armed Guards (FANB) reportedly seized the vessel and detained the crew members, who were intercepted in Mariusa, Tucupita, Delta Amacuro, Venezuela.

Previously, Minister Todd told reporters that they received reports about this third seizure but were awaiting confirmation from Guyana’s Embassy in Caracas.

“I got word from them today – the Embassy. They reported they saw media reports… and they mentioned that the vessel was apprehended in Venezuelan waters and the coordinates show that they were in Venezuelan waters for illegal fishing. That is what was reported from Caracas,” the Foreign Minister told INews Friday evening.

According to Minister Todd, the Caracas Embassy has reached out to the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry to speak with the Vice Minister but, “so far, there was nothing coming from the Ministry in Venezuela. So, I would suggest we treat it as unconfirmed reports… I can only speak definitively when I speak to the Foreign Ministry.”

With regards to the other two Guyanese fishing boats and 12 fishermen that were detained just over a week ago by the Venezuelan navy, Todd said the Guyana government is fervently working to have the men released.

“They’re still being detained and my understanding is that they’re on the vessel. But we’re still trying our best to get an early release,” the Foreign Affairs Minister told this publication.

The two Guyanese fishing vessels – the Lady Nayera and the Sea Wolf – were intercepted on January 21 while operating off the coast of Waini Point within Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) by the Venezuelan navy, which detained the crew members and seized the vessels.

                                                                              Lady Nayera

The crew of one of the ships, the Lady Nayera, is headed by Captain Richard Ramnarine and comprises crew members Ramlakan Kamal, Nick Raghubar, Javin Boston, Michael Domingo and Joel Joseph.

The other ship, the Sea Wolf, is captained by Captain Toney Garraway, and comprises crew members Errol Gardener, Orland Roberts, Christopher Shaw, Shirvin Oneil and Randy Henry.

While Venezuelan Minister of People’s Power for Foreign Relations, Jorge Arreaza, has assured that the crew members were being treated with the utmost respect for their human rights and undertake to pursue their early release, the fishermen have since been brought before a Venezuelan court and according to further reports coming out of Caracas suggest that the men could be detained for some 45 days more pending investigations in the Spanish-speaking nation.

Meanwhile, photos and videos have been circulating on social media of Venezuelan naval forces reportedly “patrolling the disputed waters”.

But Minister Todd dismissed these as “fake news”. The photos and videos were from a training exercise by the Venezuelan navy since 2019.

“That is not how we operate, it’s unpatriotic for people to be doing that,” the Minister said.

He further noted that while government does not have any control over social media posts, persons should only look to authorities for official details and announcement on this issue.

“We’re doing our best by putting out statements and I think the population should rely on the Foreign Ministry and the President for any update or information on this issue. They should take guidance when we speak. But there’re people in society who may want to distort or create confusion and we don’t have any control over that,” Todd posited.