Following the recent attack by Venezuela in Guyana’s waters last month, President David Granger charged ranks of the Guyana Defense Force (GDF) to work harder to deter aggression from Guyana’s territory.
The Commander-in-Chief made the charge at the annual GDF Officer’s conference held at State House on Thursday.
Reminding the gathering of the attacks on Guyana by our foreign counterparts, Granger noted that the country has always been victim to claims on its territory despite international recognition of its landmass, territorial boarders and Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ).
On December 22, the Venezuelan Navy intercepted an ExxonMobil contracted oil exploration vessel offshore the Stabroek block area of Guyana’s EEZ and attempted to land a helicopter on the Ramform Tethys (ship).
As a result of this Exxon was forced to temporarily halt its operations on the Martine space belonging to Guyana where it was operating.
President Granger further reminded that, this aggression is not the first to be launched by Venezuela.
Back in 2013, an armed Venezuelan Navy vessel entered Guyana’s waters and forced a seismic survey vessel into the neighbouring Republic country where the ship and crew were detained.
The vessel, the ‘Yekuana’, was trailing the seismic vessel, the MV Teknik Perdana which was contracted with Anadarko which at the time had a petroleum prospecting licence to search for hydrocarbons in the Roraima block offshore Guyana.
The Venezuelan Navy later escorted the vessel off of Guyana’s shore and illegally placed them under arrest.
These attacks have caused Guyana to file documents at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) outlining the issue being faced because of neighbouring Venezuela and outlined why it believes that the Court has a right to hear its case to settle the controversy over the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award.
Guyana is hoping that the International Court will in a final and binding judgment, determine the full legal validity of the arbitral award that established the international boundary between Guyana and Venezuela more than a century ago.
According to Granger, Guyana reserves the right to pursue measures to protect its sovereignty and rights against future hostile acts.
“The defense force have been and must always remain to deter aggression, to defend national sovereignty and ensure the development of our country and a safe, secure and strong state…” the President stated.
The Head of State noted that the various attacks and continued illegal activities occurring by our “persistent neigbours” must stop.
“The defense force, must maintain itself in a state of readiness to secure our entire country and to protect it from future dangers. They are charged with the defense of Guyana, the force therefore is obligated to secure the state and safeguard the country from invasions …Encouragement must be deterred, resurrections must be suppressed, we must remain secure” the President said.
Guyana has seen an influx of migrants as a result of the economic and political distress currently facing Venezuela, which has recently been escalated with thousands of Venezuelans taking to the streets against the incumbent Government headed by Nicolás Maduro who is being accused of rigging his way to second term.
In responding to the protests which have resulted in casualties and heightened tensions as the US has backed the Opposition Leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate President, the coalition Government of Guyana, through a foreign Affairs statement said it is gravely concerned at the deepening of the political crisis in the country and supports calls made at both the “regional and international levels for immediate dialogue involving all political and social actors, with a view to the preservation of the democratic process and a return to normalcy.” (Kizzy Coleman)