By Ivan Cairo
Caribbean News Now contributor
PARAMARIBO, Suriname -- Although the OAS Secretariat has not been officially notified of 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.
OAS assistant secretary general Albert Ramdin. OAS photo
“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 noted that, so far, neither 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 explained.
Venezuela’s navy last 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, Venezuela on Friday demanded an official explanation from Guyana about the presence of the vessel in Atlantic waters Caracas also claims as its territory.
The ship arrived on Sunday at Margarita Island, off Venezuela's Caribbean coast, and was placed in the custody of the Public Ministry (MP).
The Ukrainian captain the vessel is reportedly being charged with illegally sailing in Venezuela's maritime economic zone and was due to appear in court on Monday.
However, Guyana's government said the ship was well within its territorial waters.
The vessel's seizure threatens to revive a decades-old territorial dispute between Venezuela and Guyana.
“It is very regretful that these situations occur from time to time, especially when it is between two neighbouring 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 Ramdin.
Venezuela's and Guyana's foreign ministers will meet on Thursday in Trinidad to seek a negotiated solution, Venezuela said.