Apr 21, 2021 News
– ‘We have law and order, unity on our side’
Kaieteur News – Minister of Housing and Water, Hon. Collin Croal, on Monday told residents of Mabaruma and Port Kaituma, Region One (Barima/Waini), that they should not be fearful of the ongoing territorial controversy between Guyana and Venezuela, as Guyana has ‘law and order on its side.’
Minister Croal, who has geographic responsibility for Region One, led an outreach on the Guyana/Venezuela border controversy to the two districts, which have several villages in close proximity to the border. The outreach is the first of a series to be held in the region, organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. It is aimed at sensitising frontline communities on the decades-old issue.
The villages of Kamwatta, White Water and Yarakita in the Mabaruma district, and Canal Bank, Eclipse Falls, Sebai and Citrus Grove in Port Kaituma district are closer to the border that separates Guyana from its Spanish-speaking neighbour. Residents have called for increased security as the boundary remains porous.
But Minister Croal said villagers have nothing to fear, as the claims by Venezuela remain a “non-issue.” Moreover, he said, Guyana is in its right and remains steadfast in the support it has been receiving.
“We have law and order and the international community on our side. We have the recognition that we are in the right and we will continue a path that will see us having this matter settled in a legal way,” Minister Croal told Mabaruma residents.
He said Guyana is united on this front, noting that “where there is unity, there is strength.”
“If there is anything that all of us, on every side of the political divide, that we all agree on and have a commonality with, that is that we have uniformity in our position and that is, Guyana belongs to us, the citizens of Guyana. And so, every one of us on the different side of the political divide shares that view.
When you have a unified country on a matter, it sends a powerful message. We have one thing on our side, as well as the common understanding that the claims by Venezuela are just claims.”
Croal noted that all Governments, including the PPP/C, have pursued a path to bring finality to the border controversy, “We believe that there is no basis to the claim being made by Venezuela and that it infringes on our independence, our international democracy. For us, we have a belief that the boundary has been settled, so it is a non-issue.”
Venezuela, since 1962, has contended that the 1899 Arbitral Award, which definitively settled the land boundary between the two countries, was null and void. The country continues to claim most of the Essequibo region.
Providing a historical context on the controversy, the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s Director of Frontiers, Ms. Donnette Streete, said Guyana is confident that its case is just. She said not only has Venezuela failed to present evidence to support its claims, but Guyana has remained peaceful, even in the face of aggression by the Bolivarian Republic. She said, “international law will bear us out.”
On January 30, 2018, the United Nations Secretary General issued a decision choosing the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as the means to be used for the solution of the controversy. Following that decision, on March 29, 2018, Guyana filed its application instituting proceedings against Venezuela regarding the legal validity and binding effect of the October 3, 1899 Award, which determined the land boundary between British Guiana and Venezuela.
On December 18, 2020, the Court ruled that it had jurisdiction to entertain Guyana’s application, while Venezuela issued a public communiqué stating its non-acceptance of the Court’s jurisdiction. Guyana’s consistent position is that as Parties to the 1966 Geneva Agreement, both countries had mutually conferred on the Secretary-General of the United Nations the authority to choose the means of settlement of the controversy. The ICJ has fixed a time limit of March 8, 2022 for the submission of Guyana’s Memorial on the merits of the case and March 8, 2023 for the submission by Venezuela of its Counter-Memorial.
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