Dec 09, 2023 News
“We have allies also who will not countenance the lack of democracy in Venezuela, who will not countenance Venezuelan aggression…[they] have made it very explicit that in this hemisphere they are not going to allow it and we have to extend our capabilities on the basis of the defence cooperation with these allies and we have done so.”
Kaieteur News – Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo has dismissed the view that the size of Venezuela’s army has rendered Guyana helpless in the face of that country’s baseless claims over Guyana’s Essequibo region.
During a press conference on Thursday at the Office of the President, the VP assured that government is taking necessary steps to protect all 83,000 square miles of Guyana. He pointed out that while the Venezuelan army is indisputably about 30 times the size of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), the country has forged relationships with capable allies.
The former Head of State made it clear, “Here in Guyana we will work to keep our country safe and our people safe. Our diplomatic efforts are geared towards that.”
He said, “Now an incessant assessment of whether the GDF has the same capability as the Venezuelan army, it’s not helpful. We know that from a very long time that the size of the Venezuelan army is probably 30 times the size of ours because they have a large population and they have had more border conflicts with other countries and they have been a more belligerent nation than we have ever been in the past.”
Be that as it may, Jagdeo noted that it is crucial for small states, such as Guyana to build strong diplomatic relations with countries that boast greater capabilities and share strategic interests. To this end, he assured, “we have allies who share our strategic interest.” He was keen to note that these allies, including the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the entire Latin America, including Brazil are prepared to defend peace in the region.
He pointed out, “We have allies also who will not countenance the lack of democracy in Venezuela, who will not countenance Venezuelan aggression… [they] have made it very explicit that in this hemisphere they are not going to allow it and we have to extend our capabilities on the basis of the defence cooperation with these allies and we have done so.”
Consequently, the VP noted that Guyana is ready to defend its territory. Jagdeo explained that the country is exerting its efforts to deter any illegal action that may be taken by Venezuela however, should that country breach the orders of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Guyana is armed with an extended capability to defend its sovereign territory.
The World Court had told Venezuela on December 1, 2023, that it should not take any action that would alter Guyana’s control over the Essequibo Region. It also instructed both nations to refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the Court or make it more difficult to resolve.
Despite the Court’s ruling, Venezuela held its referendum on December 3, 2023 to consult its population on a move to annex Guyana’s Essequibo as part of that country’s map. The Venezuelan government, led by President Nicolas Maduro later announced intentions to grant concessions in the Essequibo region while noting that companies operating there should vacate within three months.
The government of Guyana has shared this development as well as the other measures revealed by the Maduro-administration, which threatens Guyana’s control over the Essequibo region, to the international community.
To this end, Jagdeo assured citizens on Thursday, “We are not as helpless or blowing in the wind as some people would like to think.”
Venezuela has historically claimed Guyana’s Essequibo region as its own despite its initial acceptance of the 1899 Arbitral Award that gives Guyana control of the Essequibo.
After years of fruitless mediation, the two countries were sent to the world court through the United Nation’s (UN) peacekeeping process to settle the controversy once and for all.
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