Venezuela/Guyana dispute: Granger says ‘heart of the matter’ was not addressed

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By Kurt Campbell

A Venezuelan Coast Guard boat sits next to the 285-foot survey ship Teknik Perdana docked near the shore in Margarita Island, Venezuela, Sunday. [Gustavo Granado / AP]
A Venezuelan Coast Guard boat sits next to the 285-foot survey ship Teknik Perdana docked near the shore in Margarita Island, Venezuela, Sunday. [Gustavo Granado / AP]
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Opposition Leader David Granger has expressed the view that the meeting held on Thursday (October 17) between the Foreign Ministers of Guyana and Venezuela on the ongoing maritime border dispute between the neighboring states ‘solved nothing’ and registered his dissatisfaction in this regard.

Guyana and Venezuela have agreed that a technical team would meet within four months to explore mechanisms within the context of international law to address the issue of maritime delimitation.

Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues- Birkett and Venezuela’s Foreign Relations Minister Elias Jaua Milano along with their delegation met in Trinidad and Tobago following the seizure of a US Ship in Guyana’s waters by the Venezuelan navy on October 10.

In light of a joint statement which was issued late on Thursday night, Granger said reference should have been made to the fact that the Venezuelan Navy was armed and used force in Guyana’s territory.

“The joint statement merely agreed to explore mechanisms within the context of international law to address the use of maritime delimitation, it did not address the dangerous use or threat of the use of armed force by Venezuela against Guyana which is in contravention of Art.2 (4) of the Charter of the United Nations” the opposition leader said.

Granger expressed the opinion that it has become evident that there is need to strengthen the role of the National Assembly, the capability of the Government of Guyana and the capacity of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to respond to challenges to the country’s territorial integrity.

Granger also reiterated his call for the establishment of a permanent ‘National Borders Commission’ within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “There is much to be gained by not sitting on our hands” he added.

Venezuela’s navy took control of a research vessel, which was conducting a survey in the Roraima Block offshore Guyana. Venezuela sailed the ship to its Margarita Island, where the vessel was seized for six days, during which its Captain was charged and released on bail. The country is claiming that the vessel was in their economic zone.

However, Guyana has strong evidence to support that the US ship was well within its jurisdiction when it was accosted and seized by the Venezuelan Navy.

Venezuela and Guyana have long argued about the status of the disputed Essequibo region, an area on the border and over rights to the ocean resources that lie offshore. Venezuela calls it a “reclamation zone,” but in practice it functions as Guyanese territory.

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