– President Ali assures ahead of meeting with Maduro
– talks aimed at maintaining peace in the region- St. Vincent PM
Kaieteur News – Guyana’s Head of State, Dr. Irfaan Ali has made it clear that Guyana’s land boundary is not up for discussion, ahead of a meeting with Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro.
The Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, in a correspondence to the two heads of states, dated December 9, 2023 said, “The leaderships of the Community of States of Latin America and the Caribbean (CELAC) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) consider that it is necessary and desirable to facilitate the convening of a meeting in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Thursday, December 14, 2023, at 10:00 a.m., between the Presidents of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on matters consequential to the border controversy between these two great countries.”
went on to state that both heads have agreed to this meeting in the presence of President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, His Excellency Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
Gonsalves noted that in light of the recent events relative to the ongoing border controversy, “the leaderships of CELAC and CARICOM have assessed, in the interest of all concerned, including our Caribbean and Latin American civilisations, the urgent need to de-escalate the conflict and institute an appropriate dialogue, face-to-face, between the Presidents of Guyana and Venezuela.”
President Ali in a subsequent media release explained that he was contacted by leaders representing CELAC, Brazil and several bilateral partners, encouraging dialogue with the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
He said on Friday evening in the emergency meeting of the Heads of Government of CARICOM, the Heads urged Guyana to explore the possibility of a meeting with President Maduro in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
While the invitation to President Ali is clear that the talks are premised on the border controversy, the Head of State pointed out “Guyana’s land boundary is not up for discussion, as it is currently before the ICJ and when adjudicated will be fully respected by Guyana.”
The President said he will continue to engage Guyana’s bilateral partners on defence cooperation pacts, as well as the on-going range of political, social and economic arrangements.
According to the Head of State, “Guyana is clear that the advancement of our development agenda will not be compromised. Our development partners and investors can be assured that there will be no changes nor alterations to existing arrangements.”
The President also reaffirmed Guyana’s commitment to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) process in the resolution of the border controversy, and to ensure that the region remains a Zone of Peace.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gonsalves during a press engagement on Saturday evening clarified that the talks between the two heads is geared towards maintaining peace in the Region.
Gonsalves was asked by Denis Chabrol of the Demerara Waves to explain the purpose of Thursday’s meeting if Guyana is insisting the border controversy must be resolved by the ICJ and Venezuela is maintaining a bilateral solution.
The Prime Minister in his response pointed out that the bilateral discussions are intended to ensure the Region remains at peace.
He said, “There are many things to be addressed and the matter of the commitment to international law, the commitment to peace, to maintain the region as a zone of peace and not to go to open conflict. All those things are of great importance and I’m sure when leaders sit down, they will search for and find modalities to continue to maintain the peaceful co-existence”.
He stressed that the two nations are neighbours and must live alongside each other. As such, the Prime Minister said he believes there is great value to the communication between the two leaders.
Moreover, he stressed, “I want you also to look at what is preferable; talking in peace and respectfully than fighting…it is not beyond the leaders to help to save the Region from intense conflict which will bring about lots of pain and suffering and set back this Region more than a generation.”
Presently, Guyana and Venezuela are before the ICJ to settle the ongoing border controversy. While the outcome is still pending, Venezuela forged ahead with a referendum on December 3, 2023 to consult its citizens on a move to annex Guyana’s mineral-rich Essequibo region into the map of Venezuela.
Following this process, President Maduro’s government announced a suite of measures in defiance of the ICJ orders, to essentially take control over Guyana’s sovereign territory.
The World Court had told Venezuela on December 1, 2023, that it should not take any action that would alter Guyana’s control over the Essequibo Region. It also instructed both nations to refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the Court or make it more difficult to resolve.
Be that as it may, the Venezuelan government on December 5, 2023 announced the appointment of a governor of Guyana’s Essequibo Region, Major General Alexis Rodríguez Cabello.
International media reports also note that the Maduro regime has also announced that he and his team will grant concessions in the Essequibo region and have also given companies within the area three months to vacate.
On Tuesday evening, Venezuelan authorities also presented a new map to its people which shows the Essequibo region being part of the Venezuelan territory.
The Guyana government has condemned the desperate act by the Venezuelan government and has updated the international community on these and other developments.
It would be poignant to note that the border dispute between Guyana and Venezuela was settled since 1899 through an International Tribunal of Arbitration, an award that was accepted and celebrated by Venezuela, since through that instrument it secured control over the mouth of the Orinoco as well as the Orinoco Basin.