Jan 13, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – Once again, some weeks after the International Court of Justice, not unpredictably, ruled that it had jurisdiction over the border controversy between Guyana and Venezuela, in which the latter continues to assert an absurd and illegitimate claim over Essequibo, beleaguered Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro has promised to “reconquer” the county that covers one-third of our country’s sovereign land space.
As reported in today’s issue of this newspaper, Maduro has gone on an internal PR offensive, packing propaganda with toys and trinkets to communities on the border with Guyana. Even as he wastes time and resources on such theatrics, tens of thousands of Venezuelans continue to flee from his mismanagement of his country’s economy. While he is known to feast sumptuously in private, as was a few years ago accidentally caught on television, his people are starving and fleeing for other more stable countries, including Guyana. Just last month for example, in the sort of tragedy that the world has become accustomed to when it comes to refugees from war-torn African countries fleeing for the comforts of Europe, the bodies of 14 drowned Venezuelans, bound for Trinidad, washed up along the Venezuelan coast. According to a BBC report:
“According to the IOM, the exodus of Venezuelans is the largest in the recent history of Latin America and the Caribbean. Tens of thousands have fled to Trinidad and Tobago, many making the crossing by sea in often overloaded, rickety boats. At least two boats disappeared last year on their way to Trinidad and Tobago with a third believed to have capsized en route to Curaçao. The authorities in Trinidad and Tobago said its coastguard had not intercepted any boats in recent days, dismissing rumours that the migrants had been turned back by officials from the Caribbean nation.”
Whatever value Maduro’s vitriolic rhetoric brings for his perpetually failing regime is therefore dubious. It is doubtful that it would be enough to turn the tide of public support in his favour – aggression costs money and taken to its natural conclusion his rhetoric, if he is to act upon it, would take the sort of resources that his country, and its people, cannot afford. Moreover, considering how swift and unequivocal regional condemnation of his rhetoric has been, any actual aggression from Maduro is destined for failure not only in terms of diplomatic support but by Guyana’s allies, the US in particular, ready to provide military support against any armed incursion.
The ironic thing is that the most recent precedent for the defiance of international norms and rule of law in the hemisphere was set right here when, despite universal international condemnation from dozens of countries and representative organisations, the Granger administration sought to steal an election, a coup that – were it successful – would have resulted not only in an illegitimate regime but one which would not have been able to command the respect and support of our allies in the hemisphere and further afield.
There are several lessons to learn from the current sabre rattling emanating from our neighbour to the west. None is more important than the need for a sense of common purpose of a legitimate government and a legitimate opposition acting in concert with each other to defend our territorial integrity. Maduro’s aggression should be a wakeup call for Guyanese to unite and build a strong and cohesive state, not the failed republic that our neighbour to the west has become under a fumbling, corrupt and increasingly desperate despot.
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