Guiana Shield throws weight behind Guyana in Venezuela border controversy

The Guiana Shield has reiterated its support for Guyana in its ongoing border controversy with Venezuela following a meeting with Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn and Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Brigadier Omar Khan.
The body comprises Suriname, French Guiana, Guyana and Brazil.
During a press briefing on Tuesday at the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Officers Mess, Base Camp Ayanganna, Thomas Land, Georgetown, Minister Robeson Benn reported that during the crucial meeting, emphasis was placed on collaborative efforts to combat security threats and address challenges affecting the populations, territories, and maritime space within the 270 million acres of the Guiana Shield.

Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn and team in discussion with the Minister of Defense of the Republic of Suriname, Krishnakoemarie Mathoera and delegation

He related that the partners reiterated their stance for a peaceful and diplomatic settlement of Guyana’s sovereignty as Venezuela threatens to annex its Essequibo region. He added that Guyana has the full support of the body.
“There was an engaging discussion with our partners identifying their continued support for Guyana’s position in the matter and the fact that going on with the Argile Declaration and other meetings…the intention is to make sure, for the region in respect of this controversy that nothing should be done which would upset things until a decision is made by the courts- International Court of Justice,” Minister Benn said.
Venezuela is already attracting widespread condemnation for its recent promulgation of a “Law for the defence of Essequibo” in its National Assembly, which was condemned as infringing on Guyana’s sovereignty.
The controversial law was promulgated at the instigation of President Nicolas Maduro, in his bid to establish Guyana’s sovereign Essequibo region as a state within his country.
The Organisation of American States (OAS), CARICOM and the Commonwealth have already expressed concern over the recent actions of the Venezuelan regime.
Meanwhile, Minister of Defense of the Republic of Suriname, Krishnakoemarie “Krishna” Mathoera praises Guyana for its role within the Guiana Shield.
On this point, she explained that Guyana will be participating in many strategic initiatives and training geared towards bolstering national security within the Shield which includes the Essequibo region.
“Our future, our development, stability and prosperity of our community depend on security and the actions we as leaders are taking every day. One of the things we have seen is that no one country can do it alone. You see in the world more and more partnerships and that’s also the aim of this dialogue,” Mathoera disclosed.
Venezuela continues to lay claim to more than two-thirds of Guyana’s landmass, Essequibo, and a portion of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in which almost 11 billion barrels of oil have been discovered over the past eight years, and in which oil production activities are ongoing.
In 2018, Guyana moved to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) after exhausting all means of negotiation with Venezuela, including the good office process. Guyana is seeking a final and binding ruling on the October 3, 1899 Arbitral Award to settle the longstanding border controversy.
The Spanish-speaking nation had challenged Guyana’s move to settle the matter, but the ICJ ruled in December 2020 that it has jurisdiction to entertain the application for a final settlement. Having rejected both of Venezuela’s preliminary objections, the ICJ had set April 8, 2024, as the time limit for the filing of a Counter-Memorial by Venezuela.
Tensions between Guyana and Venezuela have been simmering since then, but escalated late last year when the Nicolás Maduro Government held a referendum on December 3, 2023, to annex Guyana’s Essequibo region.
Following the referendum, President Maduro subsequently announced a series of actions including, among other things, issuing identification cards to Guyanese living in Essequibo and issuing licences for mining and other activities in Guyana’s Essequibo County.
Given Venezuela’s threatening posture, a historic face-to-face Caricom/CELAC/Brazil-brokered meeting was held on December 14, 2023, between Presidents Ali and Maduro in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, geared towards maintaining peace in the Region.
The two South American leaders came to several agreements including, that Guyana and Venezuela, directly or indirectly, would not threaten or use force against one another in any circumstance, including those consequential to any existing controversies between the two States.
Even as Guyana reaffirms its commitment to the judicial process before the World Court, it was also agreed that a Joint Commission of Foreign Ministers and Technicians of Guyana and Venezuela would be established and meet on behalf of the two Presidents in Brazil to continue peace dialogue.
That first meeting of the Joint Commission of Foreign Ministers and Technicians was held on January 25 in Brasilia. Guyana’s delegation was led by Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Hugh Todd, who described the meeting as a “good start” to creating a better future of good neighbourliness for the next generation.
Meanwhile, only recently, President Dr. Irfaan Ali recommitted to not only defending Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity but also maintaining friendly relations with its neighbours.