Border controversy: ‘No amount’ of economic diplomacy will change Caricom’s support for Guyana – VP

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No amount of economic diplomacy will alter the support to Guyana by the Caribbean Community (Caricom) against Venezuela’s aggressive threats to annex the country’s landmass, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo has positioned.

At a press conference on Thursday, the Vice President responded to concerns that Caricom’s calls for peace stemmed from its beneficial relationship with Venezuela.

He referred to Caricom’s statement, backed by all Heads of Government, just before Guyana sought provisional measures before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which outrightly condemned Venezuela’s actions.

“It was very forceful. It spoke about the referendum and it spoke about the illegality in terms of repudiation of the jurisdiction of the international court. And it also condemned this attempt to annex our country. Very, very forceful statement from Caricom.”

“Sometimes, people in the spirit of goodwill, say we want peace in our Region. But I don’t think that will affect the commitment of Caricom countries to support Guyana. They have expressed that support publicly and privately. No amount of oil or economic diplomacy will change that support,” Jagdeo asserted.

Last weekend, both Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley and St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, who is also Chairman of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), reaffirmed that the Caribbean Community stands in support of its sister State against the Spanish-speaking nation.

The two Heads of State held a joint press conference on Saturday, where they were asked about the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy. According to Mottley, she has been following the issue very closely and is in full support of Guyana’s position, which she described as a strong one.

“I think Caricom has issued a very strong statement in support of Guyana. We have all, as individual countries, issued that. In this particular case, in our view, Guyana’s position has been strong. It has been unwavering. And it is before the International Court of Justice. And we have backed them 150 per cent with that.”

“But equally, we understand that where there is not the appropriate opportunity, to keep temperatures down, then things can happen that go beyond our control. It is fair to say Ralph is Chairman of CELAC, and Roosevelt (Skerrit) is Chairman of Caricom. And I have every confidence in my two Chairs, to ensure we can keep the temperatures down even if there is not the settled outcome on the dispute that would be traditionally expected,” Mottley was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, Gonsalves also expressed his support for Guyana and warned that no one would benefit from a clash between the two nations, except imperialistic interests. Gonsalves was of the view that it is important Guyana and Venezuela continue to have dialogue that is not connected with the case – a position the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government has already affirmed.

Over the past few weeks, Guyana has been informing regional and international partners of Venezuela’s planned referendum, which has been criticised by the United States, Caricom, and the Organisation of American States (OAS), as well as several other nations in the Region, including Brazil. There is a consensus that Venezuela’s referendum threatens the peace, security, and stability of the Region.

In addition to its substantive case at the International Court of Justice, Guyana is currently seeking an injunction from the ICJ against Venezuela’s efforts to annex Essequibo via the December 3 referendum.