The government of Nicholas Maduro of Venezuela this past week signed an agreement with a section of the Opposition. The agreement has implications for Guyana since its reaffirms the commitment of parties to the agreement to press for negotiated, rather than a legal settlement over the Essequibo.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Guyana has not reacted to the agreement or to the specific aspect which deals with the Geneva Agreement. Perhaps, they are not yet aware of the details of the agreement.
The agreement, to which Juan Guaidó, is not a party, commits all sides to defend the historical legitimate rights of Venezuela over Guyana Essequibo, through political negotiation, as contemplated in the Geneva Agreement of 1966.
Russia and China, two of the countries which are providing support to the Maduro administration have both welcomed the agreement. Mexico and Uruguay have also hailed the agreement. Interestingly, Mexico is part of the Lima Group which does not recognise Maduro as President.
If Alberto Fernandez wins the next elections in Argentina, it can end up creating a further crack in the Lima Group’s support for Juan Guaidó. Argentina is a member of the Lima Group. Fernandez does not agree with labelling Maduro as a dictator.
The United States Government has said nothing this far but the agreement is bound to undermine their efforts to further isolate the Maduro administration. It has also weakened Juan Guaidós efforts to unite the full Opposition.
The government, following the agreement released Edgar Zambrano, the deputy to Guaidó. He had been arrested in May on treason charges. His release does not discontinue the charges.
Juan Guaidó himself is under investigation for allegedly agreeing to a deal, which would have seen him revoke Venezuela’s claim to the Essequibo. The accusations against him is said to have been based on audio recordings purported to involve a US administration official urging an advisor to Guaidó to “deliver the Essequibo” to ExxonMobil and other multinationals. The truthfulness of the accusations against Guaidó has not yet been established.
Guyana should be following closely the developments in Venezuela because they do have a relationship with what happens in Guyana itself. If Maduro loses power because of the relentless pressure, which is being applied by the Americans, then the petro-political equation changes dramatically.
The Americans and the Canadians are keen for Maduro to go. Exxon wants to get back into Venezuela. Billions of dollars of its assets were nationalised in that country.
The possibility of Guyana being used as pawn must not be ruled out.
Exxon is making huge investments in Brazil. It is divesting its assets in other parts of the world. Walking away from Guyana is a minor matter for Exxon since it can easily move its operations to Brazil.
The Canadians have gold and oil interests in Venezuela including agreements between Canadian companies and the Venezuelan government. They are not comfortable with the arrangements and also want to see the back of Maduro.
They have been cheerleading the Lima Group.
The United States, Britain and the European Union (the ABE countries) recently declared the Guyana government as unconstitutional and said that it could not support its development needs in a situation where a date for elections has not been named. Canada, interestingly, did not sign the agreement. The reason is both diplomatic and economic, the latter relating to Canada’s substantial economic interests in Guyana’s mining sector.
The ABE countries would have faced a moral dilemma had they not come out against the Granger administration. They would have been seen as being inconsistent if they continue to accuse Maduro of being an unconstitutional President, without condemning the Government of Guyana for its failure to call elections by September 18, 2019.
Guyana therefore must not assume that its political problems are unrelated to what is taking place within our western neighbour. Oil is the common denominator, which links the two countries.
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