EYEWITNESS: The Judicial process…

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…and the Venez border controversy

At long last – about the same number of years we’ve been independent, actually – things may finally become quiet on our western front. The Secretary-General of the UN has sent the Venezuelan border controversy over to the World Court – otherwise known as the International Court of Justice. Venezuela had insisted that the “jawboning” to arrive at a “political solution” – otherwise known as the “UN Secty-Gen Good Offices” – process continue.

Now we’ve been jawboning since 1990 and the Venezuelan Sword of Damocles threatening to slice off Essequibo remained firmly in place. Additionally, on land, the Venezuelan army fired across the border, while at sea they seized then chased off an oil exploration ship. We can’t go on like this…and we’ve now gotten a process that can swat away the Venezuelan sword – forever. This, of course, would allow us to continue our internecine war that’s also been boiling in that same time frame! But if we want to fight each other, that’s nobody’s business but ‘we own” – we don’t need the Venezuelans to periodically get us to become united when they rattle their swords!! Not one spring cuirass!!

But there’s a fly in the ointment. Venezuela had agreed to place the controversy in the hands of the UN Secretary General to pick a mechanism from Article 33 of the UN charter – which includes a “judicial settlement” if the Good Officer process ain’t going nowhere in his estimation. But the World Court has their own rules – one being if both countries don’t agree to the matter being brought to it, to the balking country, the decision’s only an “advisory”.

And that’s what Venezuela’s just signalled when they rejected the Secty-Gen’s World Court forum, which he’d signalled he was contemplating a year ago.  But we have to proceed full steam ahead – have no doubt about that. A decision of the World Court, after all, does matter in the new evolving international relations arena. No country REALLY wants those relations to be in an actual state of anarchy – so arbitrators like the World Court have more than “moral suasion”.

Now for the actual controversy, which arose when Venezuela claimed there was fraud/collusion between two arbitrators in the panel back in 1899 when the “full and final” arbitral decision was made, we’re solid. Apart from anything else, the documents underlying the claim were already produced by the Venezuelans back in the 1960s…and they confirmed there’s certainly no gun – much less a “smoking” one!!

Then, of course, if the World Court were to re-open a settled border to a claim made half a century later – they’d then certainly unleash anarchy upon the world!!

…and Lindo Creek

This PNC Government’s just thumbing their noses at the Guyanese people after the crescendo of protest over its first announcement of a “CoI on Crime”: only the period 2002-2009 would be covered. If the President’s proffered rationale is to uncover the “criminal network” with the collusion” of the PPP Govt – then, as your Eyewitness and countless commentators argued, it would make sense to begin in 1998 when the PNC unleashed their “slow fyaah” strategy.

Now the Government’s gone and appointed ex-Justice Donald Trotman – the father of the controversial Minister of Natural Resources – as the sole Commissioner to man the CoI!!

With all due respect to the esteemed ex-Justice, at the age of EIGHTY, hasn’t he developed the sagacity to see how this will appear to the people of Guyana? Even if he were purer than Caesar’s wife, as with that poor woman, there will be speculation about his impartiality on whatever conclusion he forms at the end of the hearings.

Justice must not only be done: it must be seen to be done!

…and petroleum contract

Gaskin made the point your Eyewitness has been belabouring over the last year. If the contract had to be renegotiated after its self-expiring terms, why can’t Trotman be taken to court for overstepping his remit on allocating 600 blocks?

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