The first in a series of joint collaborative exercises between the Guyana Defence Force Coast Guard and the United States of America Coast Guard was completed on Saturday on Guyana’s high seas the Guyana Defence Force has said.
This recent collaboration aimed at combating drug trafficking was birthed out of the signing of the Shiprider Agreement in September signed by Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd and then visiting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. This replaced the 2001 Shiprider agreement.
While there are no details of the indictment of any drugs or suspected traffickers captured during this exercise, it was described as a “resounding success” by the Guyana Defence Force.
This exercise with the US being conducted in Guyana’s waters comes at a time when Venezuela continues with its claims to Guyana’s Essequibo and the seabed adjacent to that land.
While the exercise was ongoing President Irfaan Ali in a strongly worded statement denounced the recent actions of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro.
Only last week, Maduro issued a decree claiming for Venezuela, sovereignty and exclusive sovereign rights in the waters and seabed adjacent to Guyana’s coast, west of the Essequibo River.
“Regrettably, by decreeing that the seas adjacent to this territory belong to Venezuela, at least two fundamental principles of international law have been violated,” President Ali said in a live broadcast to the nation.
Venezuela’s claim is currently engaging the International Court of Justice as Guyana is seeking a juridical ruling.
The court only recently ruled that it had jurisdiction to hear the matter. Guyana has always maintained that the border issue was settled in the 1899 Arbitral Award.
President Ali said that his government will act only on official statements from the Venezuelan government as he said Guyana will convey to the Venezuelan authorities “that, in accordance with international law, and is assertion of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, Guyana rejects entirely the decree issued by President Maduro.”
The President said Guyana will continue on the path of peaceful resolution of this matter in keeping with international law and the jurisdiction of the ICJ.