The Guyana Government has begun to engage its regional and international partners on the acts of aggression from Venezuela – the most recent being the unauthorised entry of two fighter jets into the country’s airspace this week.
President Irfaan Ali told the media on Thursday that foreign counterparts have condemned the recent events and that they have thrown support behind Guyana.
“In relation to these acts of aggression by Venezuela, we have reached out bilateral partners, regional partners. We have continuously engaged the international community. Yesterday, I personally would have reached out and shared this information, shared our concerns. The international and regional community has reiterated their strong support for us and their condemnation for what Venezuela is doing,” the Head of State said.
Venezuela’s latest actions come as the border-controversy case stands at the helm of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The Court is expected to set various timelines by which Guyana and Venezuela will have to make their respective submissions in the border controversy case – a challenge in which the Spanish-speaking country is claiming two-thirds of Guyana’s landmass in the Essequibo region.
Meanwhile, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd also met virtually with acting Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs of the United States of America, Julie Chung.
Todd conveyed his gratitude for the continued support Guyana receives from the United States on the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy.
The Minister further informed of the recent actions of Venezuela, including the incursion into Guyana’s airspace, which resulted in the issuance of a protest note.
In a statement from the ministry, it was stated that acting Assistant Secretary Julie Chung conveyed her optimism for relations between Guyana and the US. Chung noted that the Biden Administration is focused on democracy, values, human rights, and climate change, commonalities which the US shares with Guyana.
On Tuesday, at least one of the jets were filmed flying over Eteringbang in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni). The video showing the jet, a Russian-made twin engine, – Sukhoi SU-30 fighter aircraft, flying over some trees was reportedly captured by a miner and sparked much speculation when it made it rounds on social media.
Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Chief of Staff Brigadier General Godfrey Bess said the army had stepped up its vigilance and that Guyanese can be assured the borders are secured.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry subsequently issued a statement in which it condemned Venezuela’s actions and cited it as the latest in a series of intimidatory and lawless acts.
“The fighter jets circled the location once before proceeding in an easterly direction. The Government of Guyana condemns this latest act of aggression by the Venezuelan armed forces as a violation of the sovereignty of Guyana over the air above its territory,” the Ministry said.
In the statement, it reminded that this latest act of hostility follows on the heels of Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro’s decree on January 7, reigniting Venezuela’s unlawful claim to Guyana’s maritime space including its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and land territory west of the Essequibo river.
The incursion of Guyana’s territory using these jets, the ministry said, is a clear indication that “the Government of Venezuela is prepared to use aggression and intimidation to accomplish what cannot be accomplished by legal means- the surrender by Guyana of its patrimony. The Government of Guyana exhorts the Government of Venezuela, and its agents, to behave in a manner consistent with international law and good neighbourly relations,” the statement said.
This latest incident was reported a little over a month after Venezuela illegally detained 12 Guyanese fishermen in Guyana’s maritime space. On January 21, two Guyana-registered fishing vessels, Lady Nayera and Sea Wolf, and their crews were operating off the coast of Waini Point in Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) when they were intercepted by the Venezuelan naval vessel Commandante Hugo Chávez GC 24, which was illegally traversing Guyana’s waters.
On February 2, the fishermen were released on the orders of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro himself, with the legal proceedings against them discontinued.