Oct 05, 2015 News
“They have always been on our side; they have never let us down and I don’t expect them to let us down…”
By Gary Eleazar
Favourable concessions afforded to CARICOM territories under Venezuela’s Petrocaribe deal will not lead them to compromise their solidarity with Guyana on its border controversy with Venezuela.
At least, that is the optimistic view that Head of State, President David Granger expressed last Thursday when he met with the local media corps at the Ministry of Presidency, following his return to Guyana from the recently concluded United Nations General Assembly.
Responding to questions, Granger sought to point out that on the Petrocaribe arrangement which Venezuela entered into with a number of Caribbean countries, oil prices are concessional but all who have signed onto Petrocaribe are on equal footing with respect to how much is paid.
Guyana, he said, has been a beneficiary of Petrocaribe but, “we pay the same price as anybody else.”
He explained that under the Petrocaribe arrangement, it is just a matter of how countries are allowed to pay for the oil it takes from Venezuela.
“So don’t feel that life will end if these agreements come to an end, they are favourable, they are expressions of friendliness and we would like them preserved,” said Granger in reference to the oil and rice transactions Guyana has under Petrocaribe.
Speaking about the favorable concessions and CARICOM’s support for Guyana, President Granger said: “We are not in a trade-off, and I don’t believe any of our Caribbean colleagues are in a trade-off between Guyana and Petrocaribe; I don’t think it’s a deal.”
He conceded that Venezuela has over the past 50 years been aggressively building friendships in the Caribbean Region.
The President said that Venezuela controls the largest section of the Caribbean Sea and it would hold a keen interest there, since “much of Venezuela’s oil has to pass through the Caribbean, so Venezuela is concerned about the security of the Caribbean….It has done a lot of work in the last 50 years to build friendships.”
The President said too, while the relationships between Venezuela and several CARICOM nations are acknowledged, “we feel that the friendships must not be at the expense of Guyana’s territorial integrity.”
“I would say with confidence that the Caribbean States, particularly under the chairmanship of (Barbados’) Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart, have been on our side, they have always been on our side they have never let us down and I don’t expect them to let us down.”
Next month, all of the CARICOM Heads are scheduled to gather in Malta, along with their Commonwealth counterparts at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, “and I expect the support of the entire Commonwealth on this matter as well,” Granger said.
Save for a broad statement from CARICOM expressing solidarity with Guyana, there have been little to no expressions of support from individual Member States. But Granger said that he was not disappointed about this.
“There is no place for disappointment in international relations, you have to be realistic,” said Granger.
The President conceded that the individual CARICOM states would have their own national interests, “and I expect that the Caribbean States would behave in a manner consistent with their national interest….We got the support of CARICOM; maybe it was not as forceful as some people expected, but we are satisfied that the Caribbean Community wants to see the Caribbean remain a zone of peace and is on the side of Guyana.”
The resuscitated claims over the entire Essequibo led to UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon arranging a special meeting between President Granger and Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro.
Granger said that while there were commitments made on Maduro’s part on the matter of installing ambassadors between the two countries, Maduro gave no guarantees that there will be no further aggression towards Guyana, ahead of any solutions to the border controversy.
Any such solution is to be arrived at by the Special United Nation’s delegation tasked with investigating the situation.
He spoke of the four broad agreements undertaken between the two countries following the meeting that was facilitated by UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon.
According to Granger, Maduro agreed to have the Guyana nominee, Cheryl Miles, assigned as the Ambassador to Caracas, while the Venezuelan Ambassador to Guyana, Reina Diaz, would be returned.
Maduro, he said, agreed to receive the delegation nominated by the UN Secretary General.
Granger said that when the team had visited Guyana, the Venezuelans had lamented the timing as inconvenient.
He said too that the troops which were deployed in the Cuyuni area in western Guyana by Venezuela have been withdrawn, “so we feel that those four matters were to Guyana’s advantage.”
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