Guyana wants peaceful coexistence with neighbours – Pres Ali on Venezuela’s aggression

…says Govt not naïve, very watchful of developments in Caracas

President Dr Irfaan Ali at the 6th Annual Security Challenges in Latin America Forum in Washington DC on Thursday

President Dr Irfaan Ali has reiterated Guyana’s commitment to a peaceful outcome of the ongoing border controversy with its South American neighbour Venezuela, but he noted that Guyana is closely watching developments in Caracas.
The Guyanese Head of State made these remarks on Thursday while delivering the feature address at the 6th Annual Security Challenges in Latin America Forum in Washington DC. The event was held under the theme “Environmental Protection: Land Use in the Amazon Basin and Marine Conservation.”
During a panel discussion, President Ali was asked about Venezuela’s latest attempt to annex Guyana’s Essequibo region, and its impact on the region. In response, he pointed out that Guyana’s objective is to ensure that the region of Latin America and the Caribbean remains stable and a zone of peace, while still ensuring that there is no threat to the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“Our first form of defence is diplomacy. We want peaceful coexistence with our neighbours; we want to ensure that no action is initiated from Guyana that can destabilize the region, that can contribute to the creation of one more problem in the world; we want to help to remove problems from the world; but, at the same time, we are not naïve; we are very careful, very watchful about everything that is happening (in Venezuela),” he said.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday promulgated “the Organic Law for The Defense of the Guayana Esequiba”

“We are a country that is acutely aware of where our borders are. And we are a country that is determined to ensure that all that is contained within our borders remain within our borders and remain the assets of Guyana. We have no intention of converting any other assets from any one of our neighbours, our only intention is to live peacefully and to develop our country for the Guyanese people; but, more importantly, ensuring that our prosperity leads to regional prosperity,” the Guyanese Leader stated.
President Ali’s comments come on the heels of his Venezuelan counterpart, President Nicolas Maduro, promulgating on Wednesday “the Organic Law for the Defense of Guayana Esequiba”, thus effectively proclaiming the Essequibo region of Guyana – more than two-thirds of Guyana’s national territory – as a state within that Spanish-speaking nation.
Maduro has said this “organic law” will guarantee that the December 3, 2023 referendum will be fully implemented in the defence of Venezuela and its territory.
However, in a statement on Thursday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Government of Guyana said this attempt by Venezuela to annex Guyana’s Essequibo territory is an egregious violation of the core principles of international law enshrined in the United Nations Charter and the Charter of the Organization of American States.
The statement said this unlawful act calls into question Venezuela’s obligation to abide by the letter and spirit of the Joint Declaration of Argyle for Dialogue and Peace between Guyana and Venezuela, agreed to by Presidents Ali and Maduro on December 14, 2023 in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
At that Caricom/CELAC/ Brazil-brokered historic face-to-face meeting, the two South American leaders had come 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.
They had also agreed that controversies between these two states would be resolved by international law, including the Geneva Agreement.

Put on notice
In light of the flagrant violation of that pace pact, the Guyana Government has since vowed to reject Venezuela’s attempts to annex its sovereign territory.

“…the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana wishes to put on notice the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the Governments of the Caribbean Community and the Latin American and Caribbean Community of Nations, as well as the Secretary General of the United Nations and the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, that it will not countenance the annexation, seizure or occupation of any part of its sovereign territory. Guyana has always stood by the principles of the United Nations Charter, the rule of law, and the peaceful settlement of disputes,” the Foreign Ministry stated.
The missive from Georgetown further noted that the proper forum for Venezuela to contest title to Essequibo is through the International Court of Justice (ICJ), where Guyana has filed legal proceedings to obtain a final and binding ruling on the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award that settled the land boundary between the two countries.
However, Maduro declared on Wednesday that Venezuela does not, and will never, recognize the Arbitral Award, and also reiterated the Spanish-speaking nation’s non-recognition of the ICJ.
Having rejected both of Venezuela’s preliminary objections, the World Court has ruled it has jurisdiction to hear the case between Guyana and Venezuela, and has set April 8, 2024 as the time limit for the filing of a Counter-Memorial by Venezuela.

<<Offensive and undignified statements>>
On Wednesday, the Venezuelan leader also called President Ali a “puppet” of the United States Government, the British Government and US oil giant ExxonMobil, which is currently engaged in oil production activities in Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off the Essequibo Coast.
Maduro accused Guyana of partnering with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Southern Command – both from the US – to establish secret military bases to attack Tumeremo, which is the supposed capital of the new state Venezuela is purporting to establish within the Essequibo territory.
Maduro’s remarks about President Ali have not unnoticed by the Guyana Government, which labelled them as “offensive and undignified statements.”
According to the missive from the Foreign Ministry, it is unfortunate that the commitment made at Argyle to “the pursuance of good neighbourliness, peaceful coexistence, and the unity of Latin America and the Caribbean” is now again seriously threatened by President Maduro’s words and action on Wednesday.
Nevertheless, President Ali on Thursday reiterated Guyana’s commitment towards maintaining peace in the region and working towards regional integration. He noted that Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is leading the charge when it comes to rebuilding regional integration with focus on a massive project that aligns the transport, economic and energy integration of South America.
“Recently, we had a trilateral between Guyana, Suriname and Brazil, with President (of Suriname Chandrikapersad) Santokhi and President Lula, and we have outlined very clearly what we see this integration or how we see the integration should look like and would look like. And Venezuela must understand that they’re part of a region that is working on establishing strong credentials in relation to the rule of law, democracy, respect for each other, respect for territorial integrity, and we’re going to do all that we can to encourage our neighbours to be good global citizens and not deviate from the path of what is good for the citizens of the region, and the citizens of Guyana and Venezuela,” the Guyanese Leader has posited. (G8)