Venezuela Border Controversy: Guyana notifies allies of Venezuela’s threatening posture at border


Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo informed media practitioners on Thursday afternoon that the Government of Guyana has informed all relevant international bodies, allies, and other partners about Venezuela’s threatening actions at the border.

It was recently reported that Venezuela’s National Armed Forces has built a bridge connecting Venezuela and Ankoko Island in Cuyuni River as it allegedly advances towards Guyana’s Essequibo region. Ankoko Island is shared by the two countries with each owning half, but Venezuela illegally took over the entire island and also established a military base in 1966 after Guyana gained independence.

Asked about the Government’s response to that country’s action, the Vice President said: “We’ve notified all of the relevant partners, both of a multilateral and bilateral nature about the continued attempts by Venezuela to build up a presence at our border in a threatening posture and that it is inconsistent with what we agreed to – which is that we want to keep this region as a zone of peace.”

“We are very vigilant; we’re watching the developments; we have been working with our allies on this matter and our primary preoccupation is the retention of our territorial integrity and sovereignty,” he added.

Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

Jagdeo referred to the Joint Declaration of Argyle for Dialogue and Peace signed between the two countries in December 2023 which stated, inter alia, that they would not threaten or use force against each other. The Presidents of both countries have also engaged each other, hoping to advance bilateral relations outside of the substantive border controversy.

Former Colombian President Iván Duque this week said the international community would not allow Venezuela to act on its illegal and baseless ambitions for Guyana’s territory but rather would respond strongly to any use of force against Guyana. During a recent interview with Newsweek, Duque spoke about the trouble Venezuela was causing in the region on multiple fronts, adding that Maduro was using the occasion to drum up nationalistic support, ahead of general elections in Venezuela.

Guyana and Venezuela are currently before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to determine a final resolution to the ongoing border controversy in which the Bolivarian Republic is seeking to annex more than two-thirds of Guyana’s sovereign territory. Venezuela has since submitted its counter-memorial to the ICJ for the process to continue.

However, even as the matter is being adjudicated, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in April 2024 promulgated the “Organic Law for the Defense of Guayana Esequiba”.

The Guyana Government rejected this move, noting that this action of Venezuela was an egregious violation of the most fundamental principles of international law enshrined in the United Nations Charter, the Charter of the Organisation of American States (OAS), and customary international law. It also contradicts the letter and spirit of the Joint Declaration of Argyle for Dialogue and Peace. At that time, Governments of the nations of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and the Latin American and Caribbean Community of Nations (CELAC), as well as the Secretary General of the United Nations and the Secretary General of the OAS were notified of the new developments.

Guyana maintains that if Venezuela wants to contest the territory in question, the proper forum is the ICJ, which will decide the issue objectively and according to the law.

Subsequently, Caricom released a statement noting that in its adoption of “the Organic Law”, the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has acted unilaterally, precipitously, and potentially, dangerously. In the process, it has: (i) offended “the Joint Declaration of Argyle for Dialogue and Peace between Guyana and Venezuela” of 14 December 2023; (ii) subverted international law; and (iii) signalled a possible embrace of unworthy aggression to achieve its own articulated goals or purposes.