Jan 14, 2021 Letters
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela should be Guyana’s friendly, helpful neighbour. It came out of the cradle of under-development before us, and grew to be wealthy with the earth’s resources. But it also grew instincts of greed and power – and of expansionism to satisfy both.
Certainly, there are good people in Venezuela who disdain these motivations; but there are powerful cabals who cling to them, alien though they are to the spirit of pan-Latin American cooperation and respect espoused by the country’s national hero, Simon Bolivar.
For over a century and a half, Venezuela lived with its borders, including with Guyana, when they were colonial borders. Clearly, they could endure colonial borders, but not those of the true people of Guyana – our indigenous people, and the sons and daughters of imperial years of slavery, and indenture and immigrant labour, moulded into a young nation.
As we sought to exercise our right of self-determination in the 1960s – as colonialism collapsed world-wide – Venezuelan greed could not be contained. Under nationalist and even ‘cold war’ flags they laid siege to almost three-quarters of Guyana – an emerging infant neighbour. With old conquistadorial adventurism, they sought to disqualify Guyana’s birth and birth right. They failed to disable us at birth because both “mighty” Britain and “small” Guyana resisted.
Guyana would be the territory within the borders of its cradle of Independence unless, in the unlikely event, the world’s highest judicial body, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), were to someday rule that Guyana’s self-determination was misplaced.
But Venezuelan imperial ambitions never liked the law. It was too pure for their indecency of territorial theft. And so it remains – only now magnified by the reality that “small” Guyana has the prospect of off-shore oil resources. Venezuela’s territorial greed – like Nazi Germany’s policy of Lebensraum (grabbing territory in Eastern Europe by force) – is now heightened by criminal enrichment.
The ICJ to whom the Secretary-General of the United Nations has entrusted the resolution of this unseemly matter, has ruled that it is the right place to do so.
That affirmation of the lawful path has inflamed the forces of poaching in Caracas who now threaten, in their raves, to further defy international law, and the peace and security of the Caribbean region as they reach out in a maritime clutch against Guyana and beyond it. The Venezuelan President’s decree of January 7, 2021 with its promulgation of a so-called ‘Atlantic Façade’ that claims sovereignty and exclusive sovereign rights for Venezuela in the waters and seabed adjacent to Guyana’s coast west of the Essequibo River, is not only a violation of international law, it is also a blatant attempt to snatch Guyana territory and maritime space.
We must not permit this to happen. In the forefront of pressing for such resistance must be the younger people of this our beloved country. Under no circumstances should we countenance any attempt to erode the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our nation.
The Caribbean Community has already spoken out publicly against it, and so have the United States and Canada. Having failed to silence the voice of global justice, shame should overwhelm Venezuela. Regrettably, that is unlikely. Therefore, the youth of Guyana must stand up now, and let Venezuela and the world know that we will defend the rights of our country – peacefully, and in accordance with the applicable rules of international law. We will not genuflect to threats or to unilateral, illegal declarations by any party in Venezuela.
Thandi R. McAllister
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