By Caribbean News Global
GEORGETOWN, Guyana – CARICOM has scheduled a meeting on Friday, December 8, 2023, to discuss the Guyana-Venezuela dispute over the Essequibo region.
President of Guyana Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali has reiterated that Guyana remains a law-abiding country, committed to maintaining a zone of peace in the midst of increasing tensions with Venezuela over the ongoing border controversy.
“Why shouldn’t we be in a position to defend what is ours? We are working with our allies in a precautionary manner, to ensure that we keep our people safe and ensure the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Guyana,” he said.
On December 1, 2023, The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Venezuela shall refrain from taking any action that would affect Guyana’s control of its Essequibo region, pending the court’s final decision in the border controversy case.
These measures provide that:
- The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, shall refrain from taking any action, which would modify the situation that currently prevails in the territory in dispute, whereby the Cooperative Republic of Guyana administers and exercises control over that area.
- Both parties must refrain from any action that can aggravate or extend the dispute before the court or make it more difficult to resolve.
“We could never support any country that violates the territorial integrity of another; that’s in our national interest as a small island developing State. So, whenever that happens, we speak out strongly against that. We believe in the sovereignty of a country and non-intervention in the…internal affairs of a country. Jamaica’s voice has been consistent and loud in this regard and respected internationally,” said Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness on the announcement that he will be attending the meeting.
Minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, senator Kamina Johnson Smith, commented: “Jamaica stands in support of that position and continues to hope for a peaceful resolution of the issue within international law and as determined by the ICJ. The matter was sent to the ICJ by the United Nations (UN) years ago. Venezuela has not acknowledged the jurisdiction of the ICJ in that matter, but they have been present and we continue to hope that calmer heads will prevail and that the circumstances, which does seem to be becoming more tense and more frictional, that they can be solved.”
Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, previously affirmed categorically that his position, and that of his government, aligns fully with the public statement of CARICOM issued on December 1, 2023, which recognises the territorial integrity of Guyana and supports the process at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as the legal and peaceful means of dealing with this matter.
The prime minister said that his government rejects aggression of any kind, and insists that the Caribbean region must remain a zone of peace in the interest of the well-being and prosperity of the region’s people.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with Guyanese president Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali to reaffirm the United States’ unwavering support for Guyana’s sovereignty. The US State Department on December 6, 2023, said:
“ The secretary reiterated the United States’ call for a peaceful resolution to the dispute and for all parties to respect the 1899 arbitral award determining the land boundary between Venezuela and Guyana, unless, or until, the parties reach a new agreement, or a competent legal body decides otherwise.
“Secretary Blinken and president Ali noted the International Court of Justice order issued on December 1, which called for parties to refrain from any action that might aggravate or extend the dispute. The secretary reiterated that the United States looks forward to working closely with Guyana once it assumes its non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council in January 2024. The two leaders concluded the call by agreeing upon the importance of maintaining a peaceful and democratic Western Hemisphere.”
During an interview with the Qatari Television Network, Al Jazeera, on Wednesday, president Dr Ali, said:
“We have tremendous defence cooperation with the United States Department of Defence. We hosted the TradeWinds exercise up to this year. So, there is an elaborate defence cooperation with the United States that is ongoing. And we have brought the US SOUTHCOM (Southern command)… the department of defence, Brazil, CARICOM, the Commonwealth, the OAS, we have brought all of them in the loop as to what Venezuela is doing, the way they’re trampling upon international law [and] the reckless behaviour of president Maduro,” the president disclosed.
Guyana has formally notified the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), awaiting a response. “The Guyana Defence Force is on high alert,” president Ali announced. “This is a direct threat to Guyana’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence.”
“We would like to see the full commitment of the United Nations Security Council to ensure that they do everything to have this region remain a region of peace and stability, and for them to support international law, for them to call upon Venezuela to support and respect international law and have the controversy settled where it is – that is before the ICJ.”
President Ali has underscored the importance of coexistence and expressed a willingness to engage in dialogue on other important matters.
Guyana’s investor commitment remains strong amidst Venezuela’s untold behaviour and reaffirmed that his administration will not allow Guyana’s territory to be violated nor the development of the country stymied by Venezuela’s desperate threat.
“We have engaged CARICOM, the OAS, the Commonwealth, and many of our bilateral partners including the United States of America, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and France …,” president Ali added.
The Commonwealth in a statement called on all members of the United Nations to encourage the parties to respect the integrity, sanctity and binding nature of the decisions of the ICJ in this matter and the provisional measures under Article 41 of the Statute of the ICJ that have binding effect and create international legal obligations for parties.