Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn today received a courtesy call from His Excellency, Carlos Amador Pérez Silva, Resident Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to Guyana.
During the meeting, which took place at the Ministry’s Secretariat, there were discussions on bilateral agreements, mutual interests, and possible collaboration as it relates to the well-being of the high influx of Venezuelan migrants in Guyana.
Today’s meeting was the first between the Minister of Home Affairs and the newly-accredited diplomat.
Prior to being accredited on April 12, the Ambassador-designate had met with Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd.
Minister Todd had welcomed the Ambassador-designate and informed him that President Dr Irfaan Ali’s Administration remains committed to advancing relations with Venezuela in areas of mutual interest. Minister Todd also reiterated President Ali’s commitment to maintaining the region as a zone of peace.
“The Ambassador-designate emphasised his Government’s commitment to friendly relations and strong bilateral ties with Guyana. Minister Todd welcomed the Ambassador-designate and informed that His Excellency President Mohamed Irfaan Ali’s Administration remains committed to advancing relations with Venezuela in areas of mutual interest,” the Ministry said in its information note.
This is particularly significant since Guyana took Venezuela before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over the border controversy between the two countries. In 2015, Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro had withdrawn the country’s Ambassador to Guyana after Exxon found oil in Guyana’s waters. Eventually, this decision was reversed.
Venezuela claims Essequibo as its own, despite the 1899 arbitral award confirming Guyana’s sovereignty, which is accepted by the international community. Matters escalated in 2021, when Maduro issued a presidential decree reinforcing his country’s illegal claim to Guyana’s Essequibo region.
In the wake of Maduro’s decree, there was condemnation from all corners including from President Ali, then Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon and even the United States (US). More condemnation would follow when Venezuela detained two Guyanese vessels.
At the time, Minister Todd had summoned the head of the Venezuelan mission in Guyana to a meeting to remonstrate with Venezuela over its actions. Todd met with Chargé d’Affaires, Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Moses Chavez, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
During the meeting, Minister Todd registered the strong objection of the Government of Guyana over events that are developing in Caracas related to the attempts by Venezuela to assume jurisdiction over marine and terrestrial areas, solely based on unilateral action without due regard for international law and the rights of Guyana. The vessels were eventually released.
Guyana moved to the ICJ after exhausting all means of negotiation with Venezuela and the failed good offices process between the two South American neighbours. Then United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres in January 2018, decided that the case should be settled by the ICJ, after exercising the powers vested in him to decide how the controversy should be settled by the 1966 Geneva Agreement between Guyana, Venezuela, and the United Kingdom.
Back in March 2021, ICJ had granted Guyana until March 8, 2022, to file its written submissions for the case, after requesting 12 months. Guyana filed its submissions on schedule. Venezuela was meanwhile given until March 8, 2023, to submit its counter-memorial.
The ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. It was established by the United Nations Charter in June 1945, and began its activities in April 1946. The Court is composed of 15 Judges elected for a nine-year term by the General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations. The seat of the Court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands).