Dec 11, 2023 News
…maintains Guyana’s control over Essequibo not on cards
By Davina Bagot
Kaieteur News – President Dr. Irfaan Ali yesterday accepted an invitation by Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves for dialogue with the Venezuelan President, Nicolás Maduro.
The two states are presently before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for a final resolution on the border controversy. Venezuela claims that two thirds of this country’s mineral-rich Essequibo belongs to that country, but Guyana argues that this matter was already settled through an Arbitral Award in 1899 that has long been accepted by Venezuela.
In light of the deepening of tensions between the two nations, with Venezuela announcing measures to seize the territory, regional bodies have called for dialogue with the Guyanese and Venezuelan Presidents.
President Ali in his acceptance of the invitation by Prime Minister Gonsalves on Sunday informed that while Guyana is open to discussions with Maduro, the subject of the border controversy will be off the cards.
In fact, Guyana’s Head- of- State made it clear in his correspondence to Gonsalves, dated December 10, 2023 that the talks should be focused on peace, respect for international law and avoidance of threats.
The President said, “I will be there in answer to the call by colleague CARICOM Heads of Government on 9 December, 2023 for appropriate dialogue between the leaders of Venezuela and Guyana to ensure peaceful coexistence, the application and respect for international law and the avoidance of the use or threats of force.”
The talks between President Ali and Maduro is set to take place in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Thursday, December 14, 2023.
St. Vincent’s Prime Minister in his letter to Guyana’s Head of State, dated December 9, 2023 informed, “The leaderships of the Community of States of Latin America and the Caribbean (CELAC) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) consider that it is necessary and desirable to facilitate the convening of a meeting in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Thursday, December 14, 2023, at 10:00 a.m., between the Presidents of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on matters consequential to the border controversy between these two great countries.”
Kaieteur News understands that President Maduro has also accepted the invitation for talks with Guyana.
Meanwhile, President Ali in a subsequent address to the nation on Sunday, made it clear that there will be absolutely no compromise on the border controversy. His statements come amid tensions in the country on the scheduled engagement with Maduro.
The Head of State explained, “This matter is before the ICJ and that is where it shall be settled. There is no negotiation on this, there is no compromise on this…we have committed ourself to international law and that will not change.”
President Ali also reaffirmed Guyana’s commitment to peace and stability in the Region and every action geared towards achieving this objective. To this end, he said Guyana has no objection to any conversation with Venezuela that does not include the border controversy, presently before the ICJ.
The President was keen to note that the 1899 Award by the International Tribunal not only provided a full and complete settlement to the border dispute over the Essequibo region, but the Geneva Agreement also allowed for the United Nations Secretary General (UNSG) to determine a place where this controversy can be settled. Consequently, he pointed out that the UNSG has determined that the ICJ is that place and Guyana remains not only committed to that legal process but the outcome.
With the matter still pending before the World Court, Venezuelan government on December 5, 2023 announced the appointment of a governor of Guyana’s Essequibo Region, Major General Alexis Rodríguez Cabello.
International media reports also note that the Maduro regime has also announced that he and his team will grant concessions in the Essequibo region and have also given companies within the area three months to vacate.
Venezuelan authorities also presented a new map to its people which shows the Essequibo region being part of the Venezuelan territory.
These acts are in blatant defiance of the ICJ’s orders on December 1, 2023. The Court had instructed Venezuela 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.
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