Incursion has implications for oil production future – GTUC

Border controversy

– issues rallying call for citizens to be vigilant, involved

Noting that Venezuela’s aggression has implications for Guyana’s future as an oil producer, the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) plans to carry out a countrywide sensitisation campaign on the border controversy aimed at educating workers and the general population.
According to the Union on Saturday, it held the first such session last week at GTUC headquarters. That session was attended by various Union members and leaders and was addressed by current Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge; former Foreign Affairs Minister Rashleigh Jackson; and Major General (retired), Jose Singh.
“The controversy has implications for Guyana being able to exploit its oil and gas resources for the benefit of Guyanese. The recent incursion by a Venezuela navy ship that caused ExxonMobil – who was carrying out exploratory activity in our EEZ – to leave, reinforces and exemplifies the threats and challenges being faced by external forces,” the Union said in a statement to the media.
“At the internal level it could threaten the fabric of the nation as a single unit and people pursuing common destiny, goals. This we must be ever vigilant to and be mindful to avoid at all cost. In light of this threat, every Guyanese is a solider, a defender of truth, our borders and the resources lying within the bosom of this nation,” the GTUC stated.
The GTUC noted that they will be carrying the initiative around the country as part of “preparing the nation’s consciousness” in defence of Guyana’s border. It was noted that this can be regarded sees this form of interaction as contributing to workers’ training and education, while bringing about greater participation from the citizens. Nor did the GTUC focus all its attention on Venezuela.
It was observed in the GTUC statement that every citizen has a role to play and that no group or agency is insignificant when it comes to being involved and playing a role in protecting Guyana’s territorial integrity.
“At the end of the day, all participants left the symposium with an understanding that this is a matter to unite us. That we can all be the beneficiaries of protecting our sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“This is no easy threat as a small state having to justifiably confront an increasingly aggressive bigger state, with military might, internal political instability, and muscles it wants to flex. Even as Guyana awaits the determination of the ICJ it behooves us as citizen/workers to continue our vigilance, to be ever watchful.”
Attendees to the forum included GTUC President Coretta McDonald; General Secretary Lincoln Lewis; executive and branch members from the various unions in and out of the fold, including the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) and Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU).

Former Education Minister and Chairman of the proceedings, Jeffrey Thomas, noted that Guyana in 1962 was able to prepare its citizens and raise awareness on the ground – from the schools to the communities – in defence of Guyana’s sovereignty and integrity.
It was only a week ago that Guyana’s Government had called on Venezuela to cease its intimidation tactics and respect Guyana’s territory. This had followed complaints late last year from ExxonMobil that the Venezuelan navy had intercepted one of its vessels while doing research work.
On December 22, 2018, ExxonMobil’s local subsidiary announced it was suspending the 3D seismic tests it had started a month prior in Guyana’s Stabroek Block; after the appearance and approach of the Venezuelan navy caused the company’s seismic vessel to pack up shop and vacate the area.
Ramform Tethys, the vessel in question is owned by Norwegian company Petroleum and Geo Services (PGS). The company was contracted by Exxon to carry out tests and acquire seismic data.
The incident came at a time when Guyana has an ongoing territorial integrity case with Venezuela. While Guyana has submitted the relevant paperwork to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) the Venezuelan Government is yet to join the proceedings.
During the 2019 Budget debates, Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge had revealed that April 18, 2019 has been set for Venezuela to submit its counter memorial.