Last Updated on Sunday, 12 June 2016, 21:49 by Denis Chabrol
Guyana on Sunday said it has hard evidence to dispute Venezuela’s denial that its soldiers never opened fire on a boat that was ferrying several officers of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) late last month.
“The Venezuelan authorities would have done well to check with the troops in question at the observation post, La Boca, on Ankoko Island, who had furnished Guyana’s investigators with an explanation, which the government of Guyana believes and which it has found to involve unacceptable behaviour because it assumed they had rights of policing the river which is in Guyana’s territory.” Venezuela continues to lay claim to the Essequibo Region based on its claim that the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal was null and void.
After news had broken of the incident that occurred on May 30, 2016 on the Cuyuni River and Guyana later formally protested, Venezuela subsequently issued a public statement denying that there was an incident based on a number of checks with its soldiers in the area.
Demerara Waves Online News has been told that the boat in which the GGMC officers were travelling was well-known to Venezuelan soldiers as being involved in the smuggling of goods. This was to some extent corroborated by the Guyana government in a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday
“The statement, which the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has chosen ti release to the media flies in the face of direct reports which the authorities of Guyana received from the victims as well as the explanation, which the representatives of Guyana’s military received on May 31st from the Venezuelan Corporal-in Charge of the six troops who were involved in the incident,” the Guyanese Foreign Ministry said.
Against that background, Guyana firmly rejected Venezuela’s assertions that the reported incident was part of an “international media campaign and “an international effort to destabilize Venezuela.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already said that the GGMC officials were returning from a monitoring and inspection exercise at Arau, when the chartered boat came under attack, approximately one mile above the Eteringbang Police Station.
No one was injured.
In denying Guyana’s account of the shooting incident, Venezuela has said that its military authorities had not reported any incident in that area and that its military units had confirmed that no military exercise had been carried out in that area. Venezuela has said that the media reports were untrue because “the Venezuelan military forces have not been involved in any incident.”