Kaieteur News – In recent days, Venezuela has toned down, appreciably, its anti-Guyana rhetoric. This is likely due to the private efforts of several Caribbean governments with which Venezuela enjoys friendly relations.
The Prime Minister of Barbados had called on both Guyana and Venezuela to not do anything that would affect the Region as a zone of peace. She has said, “I hope that the rhetoric and noise between Venezuela and Guyana does not turn our Caribbean into anything that is not a zone of peace. Because it matters to us that this Caribbean remains a zone of peace and we ask those parties to recognize that their actions go beyond their two countries.”
There was nothing improper or irregular about this advice. However, the local Opposition has issues with this leader over the stance that she took in relation to their attempt to benefit from rigged elections in 2020. So, it came out and tried to create a storm in teacup by contending that Guyana did not threaten anyone, totally misconstruing the appeal for both Guyana and Venezuela to avoid rhetoric that was hostile.
While Guyana did not threaten anyone, if it adopts too hostile an attitude towards Venezuela, and if its leaders in so doing engage in inflammatory rhetoric, this could aggravate tensions and disturb the peace of the region.
A war of words is one way of aggravating tensions between the two countries. The escalation from verbal hostilities to a potential military conflict is a real possibility. It is for this reason that suggestions have been made for both sides to refrain from actions that could lead to a disturbance of the peace.
Following the announcement by Venezuela of its plans to hold a referendum and response to this from Guyana, the UN Secretary General’s Office issued a statement. The statement expressed the hope that both parties will demonstrate good faith and avoid any action that would aggravate or extend the controversy.
The tenor of that advice is to the effect that countries involved in such a controversy should not say anything that can inflame tensions and lead to a possible disturbance of the peace. This is standard language when addressing conflicts between states.
Following private talks with leaders from CARICOM, Venezuela has since toned down its rhetoric. The government has signaled that it has no intention of invading Guyana. One of its members of parliament told an audience in Trinidad and Tobago recently the same thing: it had no intention of invading Guyana. Jagdeo himself has said that Maduro told the leaders of CARICOM that he has no intention of invading Guyana.
But it appears that Jagdeo did not get the memo about the need to tone down the rhetoric. He was in typical belligerent mood last Sunday at a meeting held in Anna Regina. In contrast to the tone from Caracas, Jagdeo accused Venezuela of having “imperial designs on Guyana.”
This was a low blow – even by Jagdeo’s own standards – and one that will only attract the ire of Venezuela. That country is not establishing any empire. It is pursuing a claim against Guyana, and no matter how spurious Guyana feels is the basis of that claim, this does not give Guyana the right to say that Venezuela is pursuing imperial designs on Guyana.
Jagdeo went on to insult Venezuela by claiming that their ID card was useless. Was it useless when he joined PETROCARIBE to finance his Guyana’s imports? Was it useless when he accepted Venezuelan assistance to build housing schemes in his support base? Jagdeo’s rhetoric may be suitable in certain circumstances but in the context of the appeal for both sides to not say or do anything to inflame tensions, it was unhelpful and unnecessary.
Jagdeo went too far in deriding the citizenship of a neighbouring state. At one time, Guyana was in similar economic straits as Venezuela is in today. But that country never sought to belittle our citizenship. Jagdeo’s actions went beyond the pale, even for two states that are at odds with each other.
Jagdeo needs to tone down the rhetoric to give diplomacy a chance to work in easing tensions while we await the Court’s decisions. Nothing that the ICJ decides on Friday will remove Venezuela’s claim. And unlike what some local commentators are claiming, the ICJ does not have the power to enforce its own decisions nor has the Security Council ever enforced an ICJ ruling.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of this newspaper and its affiliates.)
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