British Govt remains in ‘regular contact’ with Guyana on Venezuelan aggression – Ambassador

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British High Commissioner to Guyana, Jane Miller

British High Commissioner to Guyana, Jane Miller has revealed that her Government remains engaged with the Guyana Government on the current border controversy with Venezuela, especially in light of that country’s provocative referendum planned for December 3.

This was the stance taken by the British diplomat when asked about Venezuela’s recent actions to annex the Essequibo region.

High Commissioner Miller was questioned on the sidelines of an event on Tuesday about the UK’s position on the border controversy, and moreover, Venezuela’s increased aggression in the form of its planned referendum for December 3.

However, she maintained that her Government remains engaged with the Guyanese counterpart. This was also her response when pressed on security assistance should matters escalate.

“We’re in regular contact with the Government on those issues and it is of concern. We remain in regular contact. We will keep discussing this with the Government of Guyana. We have a very good relationship,” Miller told media operatives.

On the other hand, the United States Department of Defence has stepped up to offer a high-level presence this week in Guyana, with teams scheduled to visit in December.

After abiding by the 1899 Arbitral Award for almost half a century, Venezuela in 1962 claimed that the Essequibo area of Guyana belonged inside its borders. Guyana has noted that the boundary between the then-colony of British Guiana and Venezuela was determined by the Arbitral Award as a “full” and “final” settlement.

Last month, the Venezuelan National Electoral Council published a list of five questions that it plans to put before the Venezuelan people in a referendum set for December 3, 2023. The referendum will seek the Venezuelan people’s approval to, among other things, annex Essequibo and create a Venezuelan state. It also seeks the citizens’ approval for Venezuela to grant citizenship and identity cards to residents of Essequibo.

The Guyana Government has sought the World Court’s intervention to prevent Venezuela from taking action through its planned referendum to annex Guyana’s Essequibo region.

One of the questions from the referendum that Guyana is seeking an order against is the very first one, which asks the Venezuelan people to reject the boundary between the two countries that was set in the 1899 Arbitral Award – following a process of arbitration.

Guyana is also seeking the Court’s intervention against the third question, which asks the Venezuelan people not to recognise the ICJ’s jurisdiction, even though the Court had thrown out Venezuela’s previous attempt to get the Court not to accept jurisdiction over the case.

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.

The Guyana Government has, however, already declared its commitment to resolving this longstanding border controversy with Venezuela through the legal process at the World Court. This position was also reaffirmed by Guyana’s National Assembly in a unanimous vote.

There is a consensus that Venezuela’s referendum threatens the peace, security, and stability of the Region.