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OAS monitors Guyana-Venezuela border spat over boat eviction

OAS Assistant Secretary General, Albert Ramdin

PARAMARIBO – Although the Organisation of American States (OAS) Secretariat has not been officially informed about the diplomatic row between Guyana and Venezuela following the arrest of a research vessel in Atlantic waters claimed by both countries as their maritime territory, the hemispheric body is watching the developments very closely, says assistant-secretary-general Albert Ramdin.

“The OAS is following the developments very closely and is awaiting the results of the meeting of the Foreign Affairs ministers of the two countries”, the OAS official said in an invited comment. He further noticed that so far none of the involved parties -both member states of the OAS- has sought assistance from the organization in resolving the matter. “This issue has not been brought to the attention of the Permanent Council. As long as there is no official request or presentation within the OAS by one of the involved countries, the general secretariat will take no action as such”, Ramdin noted.

Venezuela’s navy Thursday afternoon seized and arrested the Teknik Perdana, a research vessel that was surveying for oil in the Roraima Block offshore Guyana, prompting Georgetown to immediately demand its release. Subsequently Venezuelan on Friday demanded an official explanation from Guyana about the presence of the vessel in Atlantic Ocean waters Caracas also claims as its territory. The ship arrived Sunday at spring Pampatar and was placed in the custody of the Public Ministry (MP), to inquire about the presence of the vessel in the disputed area.

“It is very regretful that these situations occur from time to time, especially when it is between two neighboring countries. The important thing is that the two countries do not respond emotionally, but explore diplomatic avenues to figure out all the facts. On the basis of these engagements and the available information they then continue to work on solutions. There are different modalities and the first and most important is to try to resolve this kind of issues in the bilateral atmosphere”, said ambassador Ramdin.

The Foreign Ministers of Guyana and Venezuela are expected to meet in a third country later this week.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian captain of the vessel remained in custody while various government authorities determine the legal course of action, if any. The crew members are free aboard the vessel which anchored just off Margarita under naval guard.

Since the death of President Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan military and other interest groups have become increasingly restive about the border controversy which Guyana insists was settled by the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award. Venezuela claims the mineral and forest rich Essequibo Region as hers, a matter that has been placed in the hands of the United Nations Secretary General through his Good Officer.

Former Foreign Minister, Rashleigh Jackson has said that the latest border spat should be used as an opportunity to forge ahead with negotiations to delimit the maritime boundary between the two countries.