Gov’t asks Venezuela to explain chopper landing at Kaikan

Guyana’s government has asked Venezuela to explain why one of its helicopters landed at an airstrip at Kaikan, in Region Seven yesterday.

“The usual Note Verbale was sent to the Ambassador [of Venezuela] and the government for them to explain,” a source told Stabroek News.

According to reports received by government, the chopper landed at the Kaikan Airstrip yesterday afternoon and occupants inquired from two women of the community if it was San Juan, Venezuela. When the women replied in the negative and informed that they were in Guyana, the craft took off almost immediately.

Guyana Defence Force troops had noticed the chopper but before they could reach the area it took off.

Stabroek News was told that the matter was reported immediately to Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces President David Granger, who has since ordered an investigation.

A member of the disciplined forces said that the landing “may or may not be linked” to the fact that on Sunday Venezuela holds its parliamentary elections.

Only Wednesday, government announced that it had launched “Operation Dragnet,” a massive countrywide anti-crime and counter-terrorism operation, which includes additional deployment of troops to its borders. Minister of State Joseph Harmon had pointed out that all statutory security operations will be incorporated into the countrywide operation and it means that on the borders there will be enhanced presence of security forces. “…There will be intensified scrutiny by the immigration services. In the towns and in the villages, there is going to be an increased presence of police ranks.

“You know that there is an election that will be taking place in the month of December in Venezuela and, therefore, we always have to be on the alert for these things that are occurring on our borders,” he said.

Guyana has been lobbying for a juridical settlement to an ongoing border controversy with Venezuela. Venezuela on the other hand wants to continue with the UN Good Offices process, which has yielded no meaningful result thus far.

The border controversy escalated in May this year when Venezuela issued a maritime decree claiming most of Guyana’s Atlantic waters. Since then Guyana has mounted an intense international campaign to rebuff Venezuela’s claims and to articulate the position that a juridical settlement was now necessary.

In September Caracas had its gun boats traversing Guyana’s waters for what it then called routine military operations.

Guyanese citizens close to the border with Venezuela were asked to be alert to the development.

Around the Web