As we reported yesterday, Belize has registered its concerns over Venezuelan officials detaining 12 Guyanese nationals and their vessel last week. The detention was done in Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone, but much like Belize there are territorial differences that Guyana currently faces with Venezuela. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eamon Courtenay met with the Venezuelan Ambassador to Belize, His Excellency Gerardo Argote, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on January 24, 2021 for an explanation of his Government’s action. In a release from the Belize Government, it noted that Minister Courtenay took the meeting opportunity to condemn this latest flagrant violation of Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by Venezuela, while Belize has called for the immediate release of the illegally detained Guyanese nationals and their vessels and urged the Government of Venezuela to respect international law and ensure a peaceful resolution of this incident. Minister Courtenay spoke to the media today on his meeting and the country’s stance on this issue.
Hon. Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Foreign Affairs: “I emphasized to the ambassador from Venezuela that this is a particularly difficult issue for Belize because both Venezuela and Guyana are good friends of Belize. However on this particular issue as a matter of principle we firmly rejected the actions of the Government of Venezuela. We call for the immediate return of the two vessels and the fishermen. We believe that those vessels based on what we’ve been told by the Government of Guyana were in Guyanese waters and that the Venezuelans broke international law by going into their waters. As you will know most countries around the world including the United States, the OAS, CARICOM we have all come out in favor of Guyana on this issue and so I can only hope that there’s a prompt, peaceful resolution.”
The two South American nations have been in a long-running border conflict in which Caracas is claiming much of the eastern Guyana. The dispute has been exacerbated in recent years by Guyana’s development of oil reserves near the disputed area.