By Pat Dial
Kaieteur News – The Guyana/Venezuela Controversy is again shortly coming up before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). In Guyana, most of the writings on the Controversy have been of a historical and factual nature and this is a good thing since the Guyanese public are not encouraged to move their attention into the realms of arguments and discussions where factual bases invariably become blurred.
In this offering, we will depart from this norm and try to answer two questions, which many have been asking since the seizure of the two Guyanese fishing boats in Guyanese territorial waters by a Venezuelan navy ship. The first question is why is the Venezuelan public so convinced that they have a valid claim to two-thirds of Guyana’s territory and why their politicians are so bellicose and aggressive about this claim. And the second question is why did President Maduro of Venezuela choose this time to seize the boats when he knew that he would alienate the Guyanese population and cause the international community to condemn or disapprove of his action leaving Venezuela isolated internationally on the issue.
The answer to the first question began during the Cold War: At the beginning of the 1960’s, Britain had decided to withdraw from Guyana and grant the colony Independence but it was very likely that the Prime Minister of the newly Independent State would be Dr. Cheddi Jagan, an avowed Marxist. US Cold War interests tried to persuade Britain to delay Guyana’s Independence but all that Britain could promise was that she would hand over power to a non-Communist Prime Minister. American Intelligence felt that this British offer needed further insurance and so they devised a plan whereby their client Venezuela would threaten to invade Guyana if there was any possibility of a Marxist Government being installed in Guyana.
The 1899 Arbitral Award had settled the boundaries of Guyana and Venezuela and these boundaries were fully accepted by both parties and the International community. One of the junior lawyers representing Venezuela at the Arbitration, Mallet- Prevost, left a letter, which was not to have been opened until after his death. In that letter, he claimed that the Arbitral Award was the result of an arrangement between Britain and the Russian arbitrator to deprive Venezuela of its rights. After more than half a century, Venezuela, on the basis of Mallet-Prevost posthumous letter, now rejected the Arbitral Award and claimed two-thirds of Guyana’s territory. Mallet-Prevost’s posthumous letter was the causus Venezuela used to threaten Guyana and this continued after the Cold War, the raison d’etre for the claim, had ended.
Most lawyers and historians who took any notice of the Mallet-Prevost letter dismissed it as a historical curiosity or very flimsy evidence on which to attempt to upset a long accepted Arbitral Award. But the Venezuelan politicians and the Venezuelan public gave credence and importance to Mallet-Prevost’s posthumous letter, which would have been dismissed in the modern world. But the Venezuelan politicians and public still live in the 19th century Napoleonic world where territorial conquests were regarded as acceptable and even heroic. In today’s world, this 19th century ethic has been completely rejected.
The Guyana/Venezuela Controversy has been an albatross on the necks of Venezuelan politicians since they use it on each other and their public have them imprisoned by it.
The Venezuelan seizure of the two Guyanese fishing boats and President Maduro’s threatening words to Guyana was meant to create a national issue, which the Opposition has to support. The Opposition is thus brought under Maduro’s umbrella and are temporarily neutralized.
A decision by the ICJ would be in both countries’ interest. It would remove a perpetual threat to Guyana and would free Venezuelan politicians from being imprisoned by the Controversy and free their international relations from being bedevilled by it.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
Apr 13, 2021Kaieteur News – The rapid development taking place in the Ancient County of Berbice continues at a very fast rate with Vitality Inc through the Vitality Foundation coming on board to sponsor a...
Apr 13, 2021
Apr 13, 2021
Apr 13, 2021
Apr 13, 2021
Apr 13, 2021
Kaieteur News – I received several inquiries about my column of Friday, April 2, 2021 titled, “PNC will have to rig... more
Kaieteur News – There are a great number of suspected mentally ill persons walking around the streets of the country.... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders Kaieteur News – Officials of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]