With international condemnation mounting, the Venezuelan authorities have released the twelve Guyanese fishermen and their fishing vessels who were detained in Guyana’s waters and taken to Venezuela two weeks ago.
The fishermen are expected to depart Venezuela with their vessels today and are likely to arrive in Guyana by Friday.
Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd has confirmed that he was told of the release of the fishermen by his Venezuelan counterpart.
Although the fishermen were in the custody of Venezuelan law enforcement, they were allowed to remain on their boats under guard.
Last Saturday, President Irfaan Ali called on the Venezuelan government to release the fishermen and demanded that Venezuela discontinues its threats to Guyana’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Caracas has been coming under pressure from the international community to release the fishermen. The Organisation of American States, the OAS and a number of foreign governments have all made known their support of Guyana and also demanded the release of the fishermen.
While it has not been made clear what prompted the sudden release, the Venezuelan government appears to be still maintaining that the fishermen were operating within its waters.
However, the Guyana Government has shot down that position and has been indicating that at the time of their arrest and detention, the fishermen were in Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone and it was the Venezuelan Navy that was illegally in Guyana’s EEZ.