Fmr Colombian President rallies int’l support for Guyana against Venezuelan aggression

– says Maduro regime manipulating Venezuelan citizens with “false nationalism”

Denouncing the Venezuelan Government as a “dictatorship”, Colombia’s former President Ivan Duque Marquez has urged the international community to support Guyana against Venezuela’s threats and aggression.
Using his Twitter account, Duque, who served as President of Colombia from 2018 to 2022, noted that the Nicolas Maduro-led government is a “dictatorship” that is mobilizing troops and threatening Guyana’s democracy.
“The Dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro is mobilizing troops and threatening the Democracy of Guyana. Their idea is to claim the territory of Essequibo in a Referendum and use this situation as a mechanism to manipulate citizens by appealing to false nationalism. The international community must support the Democracy of Guyana in the face of this threat,” Duque further said.
Guyana’s Spanish-speaking neighbour has laid claim to more than two-thirds of Guyana’s landmass, in the Essequibo region, and to a portion of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in which nearly 11 billion barrels of oil have been discovered largely by United States oil giant ExxonMobil.
After years of failed Good Offices process via the United Nations (UN), Guyana is seeking a final and binding judgement from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to reinforce that the 1899 Arbitral Award remains valid and binding on all parties, as well as legal affirmation that Guyana’s Essequibo region, which contains much of the country’s natural resources, belongs to Guyana and not Venezuela.
The Guyana Government has declared its commitment to resolving this longstanding border controversy with Venezuela through the legal process at the World Court. This position was also reaffirmed by Guyana’s National Assembly in a unanimous vote.
Over the past few weeks, Guyana has been informing regional and international partners of a referendum planned by Venezuela for December 3, which has been criticized by the United States, Caricom, and the Organization of American States (OAS), as well as by several other nations in the Region, including Brazil, for seeking to, among other things, gain a national consensus to annex Essequibo.
In addition to its substantive case, Guyana is currently seeking an injunction from the ICJ against Venezuela’s efforts to annex Essequibo via the December 3 referendum.
Following the determination of Guyana’s application against the referendum, hearings on the merits of the case are the next stage. A final decision on the substantive case might not come for years.
In the meantime, Guyana continues to receive support from individual Caricom heads of state as well. Both Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley and St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, who is also Chairman of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), expressed support for Guyana during a joint press conference.
According to Mottley, she has been following the issue very closely, and is in full support of Guyana’s position, which she describes as a strong one. Mottley, who recently caught flak for comments made that implied Guyana had as much responsibility to maintain peace as Venezuela, even though the Spanish-speaking country has been the aggressor, also addressed the storm her comments raised.
“The fact that I said, two weeks ago at my annual conference, that in spite of that, Venezuela is a friend and therefore we would wish to see the Caribbean remain a zone of peace seems to have excited condemnation, Ralph, on you and me in some quarters. But I have come to public life to promote peace, not division. But I’m equally conscious that in our lives, things will not always go as we would like,” the Prime Minister said.
Gonsalves also expressed his support for Guyana, and warned that no one would benefit from a clash between the two countries, except imperialistic interests.
Dr Gonsalves was of the view that it is important for Guyana and Venezuela to continue to have dialogue that is not connected with the case – a position the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government has already affirmed.
Dr Gonsalves had also emphasized the importance of neither country taking action outside of international law, such as using force or threatening to use force… something that Venezuela has been accused of doing, with Guyana having to bring to the ICJ attention the buildup of the Venezuelan army on their side of the border with Guyana.
Meanwhile, Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, during a recent press briefing, reaffirmed Caricom’s support for Guyana in its border controversy with Venezuela while making it clear that the Region must remain a zone of peace. (G-3)