Pres. Ali urges Venezuela to show maturity & responsibility


President Dr Irfaan Ali, back in the country after representing Guyana at COP28, has urged Venezuela, which is under intense international scrutiny amid its border controversy with Guyana, to do the right thing and behave like a responsible state.

The President made this call on Sunday, the same day Venezuelans go to the polls for a controversial referendum that the Nicolas Maduro regime has been using to get a mandate from the people to, among other things, annex Guyana’s Essequibo territory.

President Ali urged Venezuelans, particularly those in leadership positions, to avoid inflammatory language that can inflame tension between the two countries, at a time when the International Court of Justice (ICJ) itself has ruled that Venezuela must take no action to enforce its dubious and illegal claim on the Essequibo region.

Lauding Guyanese for the patriotism and unity they have shown so far and urging them to take these traits forward into the future, President Ali also had some strong words for Venezuela. He urged the Spanish-speaking country to demonstrate maturity and responsibility.

“I am not going to get into the internal politics of Venezuela and their policy-making. But I want to advise Venezuela that this is an opportunity for them to show maturity. An opportunity for them to show responsibility. And we call upon them once more to join us in demonstrating maturity and responsibility in allowing the rule of law to work and to determine the outcome of this controversy.”

“I want to speak directly to the Venezuelan people. We are your neighbours. And we are taught to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. Long after this controversy, we will live together as neighbours. You have to determine within yourselves, whether you want to be part of a system that runs afoul of international law based on all the feedback internationally, based on the support we’re getting internationally,” Ali said.

President Ali noted that over the next few hours, days and weeks ahead, the vigilance of the Guyana Government will be enhanced. However, he also assured Guyanese that they have nothing to fear. According to the President, they are working around the clock to ensure that the borders remain intact.
Meanwhile, the President emphasised that the international support and coverage Guyana has been getting when it comes to the border controversy is a direct result of the work the Government has been doing to carry forward Guyana’s situation to the world and update the country’s international partners.

After years of failed good offices process via the United Nations (UN), Guyana is seeking a final and binding judgement to reinforce that the 1899 Arbitral Award remains valid and binding on all parties, as well as legal affirmation that Guyana’s Essequibo region, which contains much of the country’s natural resources, belongs to Guyana and not Venezuela.

The Venezuelan National Electoral Council had 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 World Court’s order barring Venezuela from taking any action to seize Essequibo while the Court makes its decision about the validity of the October 3, 1899 Arbitral Award was welcomed, the Caribbean Community (Caricom), the Commonwealth of Nations, and the Organisation of American States (OAS) announced on Friday.
Altogether, they have urged Venezuela to respect the ruling.

Caricom stated that Venezuela must not take any action to challenge, disrupt or interfere with “Guyana’s longstanding control and administration of the Essequibo region, which constitutes more than two-thirds of Guyana’s land territory until the Court has issued its final judgement on which State enjoys sovereignty over that territory.”

According to the regional body, the order “reinforces the fundamental principle of international law, enshrined in the United Nations (UN) and OAS Charters, that every State has the duty to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of others. The order makes clear that holding a national referendum does not exempt a State from its obligation to comply with this duty.”

Venezuela cannot by a referendum, or otherwise, violate international law and disregard the order of the world’s highest Court, Caricom emphasised in a statement.
Also showing support to Guyana, the Commonwealth said it noted with “deep concern” that the planned referendum on December 3 in Venezuela will challenge the ICJ’s jurisdiction, propose a formal annexation of the Essequibo territory, give Venezuelan citizenship, and national identity cards to nationals of Guyana in the region under dispute, potentially be a license to violate the territorial integrity of Guyana and constitute aggravation of the dispute which the December 1 decision of the ICJ discourages.

The Commonwealth reiterated its collective faith in due process, respect for national territorial sovereignty, international law, global order, peace and security, and cordial international relations in the Caribbean and the Latin American region.

Further, Secretary General of the Organisation of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro in response to the ruling via X, formerly Twitter, wrote: “We consider [the] ICJ decision as fundamental in requesting Venezuela to refrain from all provocative, warmongering, and illegal actions that encroach on the established boundaries of Guyana’s territory.”

He too reminded that the Court’s ruling is binding and must be respected by the Venezuelan regime.