Venezuela escorts U.S.-chartered ship to port
By The Associated Press
Published: Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013, 8:09 p.m.
GEORGETOWN, Guyana — A ship carrying five American oil workers was expected to touch shore late Saturday after Venezuela intercepted the U.S.-chartered vessel in disputed waters off the coast of Guyana — a move that threatens to revive a decades-old territorial dispute between South America's biggest oil producer and one of the region's poorest nations.
The 285-foot survey research vessel, sailing under a Panamanian flag, was conducting a seismic study under contract for Anadarko Petroleum Corp. on Thursday when it was detained by an armed Venezuelan navy vessel and ordered to sail under escort to Margarita Island, which is part of Venezuela. Guyana said the crew was well within its territorial waters, but that the Venezuelan navy told them they were operating in that country's exclusive economic zone and ordered an immediate halt to the survey.
“We will jealously defend our country and our sovereignty,” Rafael Ramirez, Venezuelan oil minister, said on Friday.
Texas-based Anadarko said it was working with the governments of Guyana and the United States to secure the release of the crew and the vessel, which it expects to arrive on Sunday at Margarita Island off Venezuela's Caribbean coast.
Guyana's government on Saturday requested a meeting with Venezuelan officials this week to discuss the latest developments, which threaten to scare away much-needed foreign investment from the country.
“It was then clear that the vessel and its crew were not only being escorted out of Guyana's waters, but were under arrest,” the Guyanese Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday in which it demanded the immediate release of the vessel and its crew. “These actions by the Venezuelan naval vessel are unprecedented in Guyana-Venezuela relations.”
State Department spokesman Noel Clay said authorities in Washington are aware of reports that five Americans are among the crew members detained by Venezuela, but that “due to privacy concerns, we cannot comment further at this time.”
Venezuela has for decades claimed two-thirds of Guyana's territory as its own, arguing that the gold-rich region west of the Essequibo River was stolen from it by an 1899 agreement with Britain and its then-colony.
The area, roughly the size of the state of Georgia, is a fixture of 19th-century maps of Gran Colombia, the short-lived republic revered by the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.
More recently, ties between the two nations have improved, with Chavez's successor, Nicolas Maduro, making his first visit as president to Georgetown in August to discuss joint oil projects with his Guyanese counterpart, Donald Ramotar. During the visit, Maduro described the dispute as a relic of the colonial era and vowed to peacefully resolve the issue.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Western Pennsylvania engineer aboard missing Malaysia Airlines flight
- Ukrainian leader will meet Obama in U.S.
- Syrian rebels reportedly release nuns held since December
- ‘Dead’ Mexican drug kingpin Moreno likely killed in shootout, official says
- Toronto mayor’s staff in dark on daylight saving
- Suicide car bomb, attacks kill at least 42 in Iraq
- Ukrainian leader will meet Obama in U.S.
- Eastern European military officers say security, economic ties blunt Russia’s war threat in Ukraine
- Israel: Iranian shipment contained 40 rockets
- Libya says its forces near oil tanker