Maduro’s Decree: Guyana accuses Venezuela of misrepresentation

Venezuela's interim President Nicolas Maduro sits as he waits for the official ceremony at the Electoral Council to certify his victory on Sunday's presidential election in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, April 15, 2013. Venezuela's government-friendly electoral council has quickly certified the razor-thin presidential victory of Hugo Chavez' hand-picked successor. Nicolas Maduro was elected by a margin of 50.8 percent to 49 percent over challenger Henrique Capriles.(AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge

[] – Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, headed by Carl Greenidge, has accused Venezuela of misrepresenting what the Minister said during the opening of the 11th Parliament on June 10 as the tension escalates between the two countries.

A statement from the Foreign Affairs Ministry here on Saturday, June 13 noted that a release issued on Friday, June 12 entitled ‘Venezuela and Guyana Will Resolve Territory Dispute Peacefully’, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry alleged that the country “welcomes the recent statements by Guyanese Foreign Minister, Carl Greenidge” who ensured that Guyana “has decided to benefit from the joint 1966 Geneva agreement,”.

The report on the release went on to explain that Minister Grenidge’s statement put to rest a territorial dispute that arose earlier this week.

Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro
Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro

However, Guyana is clarifying that contrary to Venezuela’s recent restatement of events, the Statement by Minister Grenidge to Parliament made it clear that it is Venezuela’s claim of nullity of the 1889 Arbitral Award which is the root of the problem and which has to be resolved under the procedures provided for in the Geneva Agreement.

“Guyana has not taken any recent or new decision to respect the Geneva Agreement. It has always said it would and indeed, has always respected that agreement. That Agreement makes no provision for the non-development of any part of Guyana or for the unilateral annexation of any part of Guyana, including Essequibo, by Venezuela,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

According to the Ministry, the release from the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry merely seeks to mask Venezuela’s illegal action. More specifically, it seeks to imply agreement with Guyana’s position as set out in Foreign Minister Grenidge’s Statement at the Opening of Parliament.

“We therefore expect them now to join in our approach to the UN Secretary General under the Geneva Agreement for a judicial settlement of their questioning of the validity of the 1899 Award – as made clear in the Minister’s Statement.”

The statement noted that Guyana has never strayed from the path of friendship with Venezuela.

“Finality in this matter by due process of international law as proposed by Guyana will be a gift to future generations in both countries.”

Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro in a recent decree, declared its territorial seas, re-drawn to include an offshore area where a major oil deposit has been found.

Venezuela already claims two thirds of Guyana’s territory, from its eastern border over to the Essequibo River, in what has become Latin America’s largest territorial dispute.

Caracas also previously has engaged in disputes over territorial seas with its South American neighbours, since they too ultimately set out who is entitled to determine the fate of what mineral wealth.

Former Guyanese Ambassador to Venezuela, Odeen Ishmael said Caracas’ latest decree claims all the territorial waters within the 200 mile range and so blocks Guyana’s access to resources in that area of the Atlantic Ocean.

Unlike a first decree issued by Venezuelan President Raul Leoni in July 1968 that purportedly claims sovereignty over a 12-mile strip of Guyana’s continental shelf along the Essequibo Coast, this decree by Maduro takes in an oil-rich concession that Guyana has granted to US oil giant ExxonMobil.

Prior to ExxonMobil’s announcement last month that it had found a “significant” oil deposit, Venezuela had twice written to the Guyanese subsidiary of that company warning it against continuing the search for oil because that maritime area and the entire Essequibo Region — the land area from Venezuela east to the Essequibo River — were part of its territory.



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