Guyana to update regional heads, UN about Venezuela’s renewed claims

President Dr Irfaan Ali

The Guyana Government plans to formally notify Heads of Government in the Caribbean and Latin American regions and the United Nations about the accord made between the Government of Venezuela and its Opposition last week in Mexico City.

The two Venezuelan political sides ratified partial agreements to reinforce the Spanish-speaking country’s illegal claim to Guyana’s Essequibo region last Monday.

Speaking with reporters on Sunday, President Dr Irfaan Ali indicated that he is expected to brief the Caribbean Community (Caricom) leaders during a virtual Special Emergency Meeting this morning.

He has also promised to update the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) during an upcoming meeting in Mexico as well as the United Nations, via its Secretary General António Guterres.

With the border controversary issue currently before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for a final and binding ruling, the Head of State reiterated to reporters on Sunday that the ruling of the court is the law, and that Guyana would see the case through.

“We have embraced that route, which is the ICJ and we’re committed to that route. That route is the rule of law and that is where the matter resides, not in any sideshow or any other engagement,” he contended.

Moreover, President Ali went on to point out that the countries that arranged the meeting to resolve Venezuela’s internal issues between its Government and Opposition, should understand that the controversial agreement last Monday is anything but internal.

“The controversy that exists on the border has nothing to do with their internal issues and it has already been determined where that issue would be settled, and it’s the ICJ, what we can ask those countries (the mediators of last week’s meeting) to do, is to encourage Venezuela to participate and be active with the ICJ,” the Guyanese leader posited.

After a failed good offices process between the two South American neighbours, Secretary General Guterres in 2018 had referred the border controversy matter to be resolved by the ICJ.

Shortly after, Guyana filed a case seeking a final and binding judgement to reinforce that the 1899 Arbitral Award remains valid and binding on all parties, and legal affirmation that the Essequibo region, which contains much of Guyana’s natural resources, belongs to Guyana and not Venezuela.

The Spanish-speaking nation is laying claim to more than two-thirds of Guyana’s landmass in Essequibo and a portion of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in which more than nine billion barrels of oil have been discovered over the past six years.

The World Court ruled last December that it has jurisdiction to decide Guyana’s claim that the boundary between the two States was fixed in the 1899 Arbitral Award. Back in March 2021, the ICJ had granted Guyana until March 8, 2022, to file its written submissions for the case, after requesting 12 months. Venezuela was given until March 8, 2023, to submit its counter-memorial.

But Venezuela has been refusing to accept the jurisdiction of the ICJ and despite the case still pending before the ICJ, the Spanish-speaking country went ahead and renewed territorial claims over the Essequibo region on Monday during a meeting between Government and Opposition officials in Mexico City.

However, while in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) on Friday, President Ali declared that Guyana will not become a sacrificial lamb in any political negotiations between the Venezuelan Government and its Opposition.

“We will not be bullied. We will not be used as a sacrificial lamb in any negotiations currently in Venezuela. Our position is very clear. We are very clear,” the Head of State posited while addressing a gathering in Anna Regina, Essequibo Coast.

The Guyanese leader went on to note that while Guyana continues to respect the rule of law, the country is nevertheless committed to living peacefully with all of its neighbours and to strengthen the relationships will them all. But, in the same breath, stated that this position must be reciprocated.

“We’re committed to democracy. We are committed to the rule of law…we don’t waver our principles. We don’t waiver depending on the season, we don’t waver depending on who is in Government… we have always respected the rule of law. We have always worked in accordance with the rule of law, we have always respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our neighbours,” the President asserted.

The Venezuelan Government and political Opposition met in Mexico last week to iron out their differences at home. It was supposed to be a discussion about Venezuela’s domestic politics, with a number of other countries, including the Netherlands, Russia, Turkey, Norway and Bolivia taking part.

But instead, the two sides ratified partial agreements reinforcing Venezuela’s illegal claim to Essequibo – something which has been rejected by both the Guyana Government and the APNU/AFC Opposition, who on Wednesday last stood united in reaffirming Guyana’s sovereignty.