The United States Southern Command reported that the guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence on Wednesday challenged the Nicolás Maduro regime for its “excessive maritime claims in international waters” through a “freedom of navigation operation” in the Caribbean Sea.
“The US Navy conducts freedom of navigation operations around the world to demonstrate the commitment of the United States to defend the rights, freedoms, access and legitimate uses of international waters and airspace guaranteed to all the nations”, Remarked the official report.
And he explained the maneuver of this Wednesday: “The illegitimate Maduro regime unduly demands excessive controls over international waters, which extend three miles (4.8 km) beyond its territorial sea of 12 miles (19.3 km), a claim that is incompatible with international law ”.
The United States Navy had already carried out maneuvers of this nature on July 15, when the USS Pinckney affirmed “legally and peacefully” the rights and freedoms of navigation, and on June 23, with a similar operation in international waters with the USS Nitze.
Specifically, US vessels stay outside the 12 nautical miles (about 22 kilometers) that mark the limit of Venezuelan jurisdictional waters, and then they cross an area that the Chavista dictatorship claims as its own, despite not having effective control.
Venezuela still maintains undefined boundaries with Colombia, Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and the United Kingdom, through the island of Montserrat. The country also has a maritime border with the United States, through Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, although these limits have been resolved.
“Global access to international waters protects the national interests of the United States, promotes a fair international order, and ensures that the United States Navy can fulfill key missions, including humanitarian assistance deployments, disaster relief operations, support for international efforts against narcotics and multinational exercises that strengthen regional associations ”, concluded the Southern Command on the maneuver this Wednesday.
The USS William P. Lawrence and ships of the United States Navy and Coast Guard are currently sailing in the Caribbean as part of the “largest in the West” counternarcotics operation announced in April by President Donald Trump.
These missions, known as FONOPS (Freedom of Navigation Operations) in the jargon of the United States Department of Defense, consist of exercising the right to free navigation in international waters in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea signed in 1982, even if a State claims those waters as its own.