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Feb 18, 2016 News
Noting that the threats to Guyana’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and economic development by Venezuela, its western neighbour is still grave President David Granger told Regional Leaders at the recently convened CARICOM Heads of Government meeting that the need for their solidarity has become greater.
“I had the honour to address the Thirty-sixth Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community in Barbados in July 2015. Much has happened since then.” Granger told CARICOM Heads during a meeting in Placencia, Belize, on Tuesday.
At that time, the President noted that Caricom was astonished at the outrageous Decree – No. 1787 – that had been issued by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela extending its maritime zone into the maritime space of many CARICOM states.
Granger noted, “So grotesque was the Decree that it was soon after rescinded. It was replaced by another decree – No. 1859 – equally objectionable to Guyana.”
Following the Caricom Summit, President Granger attended the United Nations General Assembly in 2015.
“I had the opportunity there to present Venezuela’s aggression against Guyana and to call on UN Secretary-General to exercise his powers to bring this Venezuelan aggression towards Guyana to an end by process of law. He is empowered to do by the Geneva Agreement of 1966 – the Agreement among British Guiana, Britain and Venezuela which allowed Independence to go forward –Independence which Venezuela had tried to block,” President Granger informed the CARICOM Heads.
In the 19th century, Venezuela disputed a claim by Britain – Guyana was a British colony at the time – as to exactly where the division between the two nations lay. The line, known as the Schomburgk Line, is named after German explorer Robert Schomburgk, commissioned by Britain in 1835 to conduct a geological survey of the territory.
It was during the diplomatic spat between Venezuela and the UK that the US Government, which backed Venezuela, threatened war on London if it refused to retract its claims to the territory. War was averted by an agreement to have the dispute settled by international arbitration.
The 1899 tribunal decision appeared to settle the dispute between Venezuela and Guyana and a commission of officials from both countries thrashed out the details of the boundary in 1905.
However Venezuela’s contention is that the international Arbitral Award of 1899 that fixed Guyana’s boundaries with Venezuela is a ‘nullity’.
The 50th anniversary of the signing of the Agreement was observed on February 17, 2016. The Agreement was aimed at bringing Venezuela’s territorial claims to an end. However, the President noted that throughout the past 50 years, Venezuela made no effort to prove its contention.
Venezeula, he said, chose, instead, a strategy of harassment; a course of obstruction of Guyana’s economic development; a diplomatic posture of preventing Guyana from membership of the Organization of American States for 25 years; attempted subversion of our indigenous people and resorted to a strategy of naked naval threat by sending a corvette into our Exclusive Economic Zone in 2013.
“Fifty years of this constant threat to our sovereignty and territorial integrity are too long for any state to sustain. It occupied our entire existence as an independent State. “
“Guyana seeks an end to living under constant threat. We seek to allow the rule of international law to prevail. Venezuela, however, reasserted its claim to more than half of Guyana by asserting – as its Foreign Minister did last week – that by the Geneva Agreement, Venezuela’s claim of nullity of the Arbitral Award had been acknowledged, if not accepted.”
While Venezuela might have surmised that, what remained was for its so-called “historical controversy’ to be resolved by diplomacy, President said that Guyana is convinced that, based on its experience, “this would mean only another 50 years of harassment.
The Guyanese Head of State told CARICOM that Venezuela seems prepared to pursue a programme of aggression under the cloak of peace to avoid a judicial settlement and submission to international law.
The UN Secretary General, in the wake of all that happened last year, has formulated Proposals for The Way Forward under the Geneva Agreement, ending, if necessary, in the International Court of Justice. Guyana has been cooperating with him Venezuela is not.
According to Granger Venezuela is instead, using its monthly Presidency of the Security Council to portray itself as an advocate of peace and respect for the Charter.
“Venezuela has issued, through its Foreign Ministry, two weeks ago, a document referred to as Ratification of Venezuelan rights over the Essequibo.”
He told the gathering that Guyana has since taken note of these warnings.
The President said that the nation’s Foreign Minister, Carl Greenidge, has since made a statement in our National Assembly on February 12, last repudiating these assertions.
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