The region has been the subject of a dispute between both countries since the 1899 Arbital award that ceded all that territory to Guyana and which is the subject of a case now before the International Court of Justice seeking a decision as to ownership of the disputed territory.
The offshore Essiquibo Region forms part of the area in which there has been continuing oil exploration resulting in Guyana striking massive oil finds courtesy of ExxonMobil, and which has placed Guyana among the oil producers of the world.
“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela reiterates that it will not allow illegal incursions of any kind into its territory and that it will exercise, as it has always done, the sacred right to defend their sovereignty,” the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said.
“The operation of the Bolivarian Navy was carried out in waters of undisputed Venezuelan sovereignty, in full respect of current legislation, guaranteeing due process to the detained crew members,” the Foreign Ministry said, in reference to the captains and 11 crew members of the Guyanese registered fishing vessels, Sea Wolf and Lady Nayera, that were seized on January 21.
The Venezuelan government has accused the Gyuanese fishermen of illegaly fishing “in waters of full sovereignty and jurisdiction of Venezuela, without having any type of legal documentation.”
However, according to the owners of the vessels and the Government of Guyana they were in Guyanese waters off the Waini coast when they were intercepted last week Thursday by the Venezuelan Navy and taken to Guiria.
Guyana is relying on bilateral and multilateral diplomatic pressure to secure the release of the vessels
Earlier this month, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro issued a decree unilaterally extending its maritime boundary up to the western bank of the Essequibo River, in direct response to the International Court of Justice deciding that it has jurisdiction to hear Guyana’s case on the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award on the land boundary between the two countries.
The Venezuelan government accused Guyana of conspiring with the American oil-giant ExxonMobil. “This new media matrix of the Guyanese authorities lays bare the unilateral claims of that government, in alliance with transnational oil companies, particularly with the American ExxonMobil, on uncontested Venezuelan territory, as well as on marine and underwater areas pending delimitation,” the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said.
Venezuela on Monday again reiterated its call for bilateral negotiations to settle the border controversy in keeping with Caracas’ interpretation of the Geneva Agreement.
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