‘We are not taking Venezuela’s narrative for granted’ – President Ali tells BBC


President Dr Irfaan Ali has once again underscored that Guyana is not taking Venezuela’s rhetoric and narrative relating to the border controversy for granted.

President Ali reaffirmed that Guyana’s response will continue to adhere to international law, which respects the dignity of people and leads to the continuation of peace within the region.

The Head of State made the statement during an interview on Monday with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy.

“I am concerned that Venezuela can indeed follow up the rhetoric and the narrative and act in a reckless manner. This is concerning because, already we have a dangerous situation in Venezuela, where the people are suffering as a result of the type of governance…Where the respect for the rule of law, democracy, and all these things are threatened,” President Ali underlined.

The president said his country is concerned that reckless and adventurous action can lead to more displacement of the Venezuelan people, which can also create added regional pressures on migration and other issues.

He emphasised that Guyana will continue to respect the rule of law, as the nation continues to garner more support from its allies and other countries to uphold Guyana’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

“As a country, we are not taking this for granted. We are not taking the narrative out of Venezuela for granted. That is why we have been working with our neighbours, friends, CARICOM, Commonwealth, the OAS…They have all issued very strong statements and called on Venezuela to respect the rule of law and the order of the ICJ,” stressed President Ali.

Last Friday, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) unanimously ruled that until the court renders a definitive verdict in the border case, Venezuela shall not take any actions that may impair Guyana’s jurisdiction over the Essequibo area.

Five questions were released by Venezuela’s National Electoral Council for the referendum which was held on Sunday. Among other questions, Venezuelan voters were asked whether they support establishing a state in the disputed Essequibo territory, granting citizenship to current and future area residents and rejecting the jurisdiction of the United Nations’ top court in settling the disagreement between the South American countries.

In October, Guyana requested a court injunction prohibiting Venezuela from taking any action to seize, acquire, encroach upon, or establish sovereignty over the Essequibo in a Request for Provisional Measures that it sent to the ICJ.

With the ICJ ruling, President Ali restated that Venezuela is not to act upon the outcome of the two questions and the outcome of the referendum.

“And that Venezuela must respect the status quo as it exists today in Guyana and that is Essequibo belonging to Guyana…I believe that Venezuela has a responsibility to honour the order and respect the 1899 Award,” Dr. Ali asserted.

In the 1899 Arbitral Award, the boundaries of Guyana and Venezuela were fully settled, which was jointly agreed to by both nations.