Feb 02, 2018 News
A group of Guyanese yesterday staged a protest outside the Venezuela Embassy on Thomas Street, Georgetown, calling on the President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro Moros, to respect Guyana’s sovereignty and withdraw his unlawful claim to Essequibo.
The protest came two days after neighbouring Venezuela made it clear that it prefers political dialogue than going to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN).
Businessman Don Gomes, who led the protest, said that the aim is to send a message to Caracas, via the embassy, that Guyanese want the claim by Venezuela ended.
“We want them to read the sign and report to Caracas that patriotic Guyanese have come together,” Gomes noted.
He added, “We want the Guyanese people to become more aware of how serious this matter is, while we are going to the ICJ, it is also important for us as Guyanese to become more knowledgeable of what can happen, anticipate what can happen, calculate what can happen and plan for it.”
Venezuela and Guyana received notification from the Secretary General of the UN, António Guterres, who agreed for the matter to be settled once and for all at the ICJ.
President David Granger had all along expressed that Guyana preferred the border controversy be settled by the ICJ. Venezuela had initially committed to abide by the UN Secretary General’s decision, but once that decision was made, they reversed their stance.
“Mr. Granger did a wonderful job of getting this case to ICJ and getting the world to understand our position. We as a people must appreciate and understand what the President did. These acts of aggression can suddenly turn our lives upside down if they decide to attack us. Venezuela must cancel the decree and let us operate like nations who are neighbours,” Gomes noted.
He stated that he will be distributing copies of the Tradewinds song, ‘Not a Blade of Grass’, to the opposition members of Parliament in Venezuela.
A statement read by Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza, disclosed that his Government has ratified the Geneva Agreement, signed in 1966, which “recognised” the sovereignty of Venezuela over the Essequibo and declared the Arbitral Award issued in 1899 in Paris as “null and void”.
In late 2015, the new Coalition Government, acting on a number of incidents which highlighted a seeming threatening posture of Venezuela, took the matter to the UN.
Outgoing Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, committed to have the matter looked at.
In February last year, new Secretary General Guterres appointed Norwegian Ambassador, Dag Nylander, as his personal representative to mediate on the territorial controversy.
Both Guyana and Venezuela agreed that they would attempt, until the end of 2017, to reach a resolution, failure of which the matter would be sent to the ICJ.
It will be recalled that Venezuela’s aggressions took a more strident tone in 2015 when the new government under President Granger took office, and when it was announced that Guyana has found oil offshore.
Venezuela immediately laid claim to the waters where the oil was found. The country also suspended an oil-for-rice deal with Guyana.
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