– as Guyana’s Foreign Minister strongly objects to Venezuela’s new claims
Guyana’s bi-partisan Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Foreign Relations met on Monday, where members were briefed by the Government on Venezuela’s most recent decree which irrationally laid claim to Guyana’s Essequibo region and maritime space.
The Foreign Relations Committee, which is composed of members from both sides of the political divide, met at the National Assembly’s committee room. During the meeting, the Committee’s Vice Chairman and Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd briefed members on Venezuela’s recent decree.
Committee members include Minister within the Prime Minister’s Office Kwame McCoy, Minister within the Housing Ministry Susan Rodrigues and Members of Parliament Jennifer Westford, Bhagmattie Veerasammy, Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, Ronald Cox and Devin Sears.
Besides the regular members of the Foreign Committee, which is chaired by Member of Parliament Raphael Trotman, Prime Minister Mark Phillips and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Gail Teixeira also attended Monday’s meeting. According to a statement released by the Foreign Ministry, Todd briefed members of the committee and also fielded several questions.
The Ministry noted that the Committee was unanimous in denouncing Venezuela’s actions. Additionally, the need for continued vigilance to safeguard Guyana’s territory was also reiterated.
“The Committee demonstrated unanimity in the strong condemnation of the implementation of any law by Venezuela with extraterritorial application in contravention of international law and the rights of Guyana. The Committee further reiterated national sentiments for continued vigilance in safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Guyana,” the Ministry said in its statement.
This publication had previously reported that Minister Todd had summoned the head of the Venezuelan mission in Guyana to a meeting. In addition to his engagement with the Foreign Relations Committee on Monday, Minister Todd met with Chargé d’ Affaires, Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Moses Chavez, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
During the meeting, Minister Todd registered the strong objection of the Government of Guyana over events that are developing in Caracas related to the attempts by Venezuela to assume jurisdiction over marine and terrestrial areas, solely based on unilateral action without due regard for international law and the rights of Guyana.
“The Honourable Hugh Todd, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation today met with Moses Chavez, Chargé d’ Affaires, Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to register the strong objection of the Government of Guyana over events that are developing in Caracas related to the attempts by Venezuela to assume jurisdiction over marine and submarine areas, solely based on unilateral action without due regard for international law and the rights of Guyana,” the statement said.
On Thursday last, Maduro issued a presidential decree reinforcing his country’s illegal claim to Guyana’s Essequibo region. Additionally, the Venezuelan President announced that he has written to Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) Antonio Guterres, to lead direct negotiations between the two countries, as opposed to the binding judgement of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
That option has been exhausted, however, as the UN tried to mediate discussions between Guyana and Venezuela for years as part of an ultimately futile good offices process until Guyana activated its right to take Venezuela to the ICJ in 2018 to get a final ruling on the border issue.
In the wake of Maduro’s decree, condemnation has flowed from President Dr Irfaan Ali, Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon and even the United States (US).
In a special address to the nation on Saturday last, President Ali had staunchly rejected this new claim by Venezuela, calling it a “legal nullity” that will not be recognised by Guyana or any State in the world.
According to Ali, Guyana has chosen to have the issue resolved within international law. He, therefore, described the Maduro Government’s latest statements as “deeply disturbing” but made it clear that they would not deter Guyana from seeking a final, binding resolution at the ICJ.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Harmon, meanwhile, announced that he was joining all right-thinking Guyanese in rejecting Venezuela’s “fallacious claims” to Essequibo and also affirming Guyana’s defence of its sovereignty.
That same day, US Ambassador to Guyana Sarah-Ann Lynch reiterated the need for a peaceful resolution to Guyana’s border controversy. She also shared a post from Assistant Secretary for the US’s Western Affairs Bureau, Michael Kozak, in which he condemned Maduro’s decree.
In his tweet, Ambassador Kozak reiterated that the US supports the ICJ’s December 18, 2020 ruling that it has jurisdiction in the Guyana-Venezuela territorial border controversy case, which he contended is the “legal and peaceful way forward.”