Soldiers, Police remain vigilant at borders to detect acts of aggression – PM Phillips

– says ‘every movement’ by Venezuelan forces being monitored

Ranks of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) and Guyana Police Force (GPF) have been posted along the country’s border with Venezuela and are tasked with reporting any act of aggression by the Spanish-speaking neighbour to the Government.
Prime Minister, Retired Brigadier Mark Phillips made this disclosure on Monday as he discussed Guyana’s position on the Venezuela referendum during the Observer AM programme in Antigua and Barbuda. According to Phillips, who was once at the helm of the GDF, ‘every movement’ by Venezuela Forces is being monitored at the border region.
“Our men and women of the Guyana Defence Force and Guyana Police Force remain ever vigilant on our border. In other words, we already have soldiers and Police deployed on our border. We recognise that diplomacy is our first line of defence. Our policemen and soldiers are deployed at the border to define aggression and in the shortest possible time, report any acts of aggression to the Central Government of Guyana…We are prepared to defend Guyana with what we have,” the Prime Minister stated.
He opined that rather than mobilising troops to wage aggression at Guyana, Venezuela should seek to fix the economic crisis befalling the nation and creating suffering for its people.
“Whatever reports of increase or decrease in deployments or construction of facilities, they’re all taking place on the Venezuelan side of the border. We continue to monitor and update our international partners…We are people who believe in peace, and respect for international law and order. We expect that Venezuela should literally reconsider that deployment and increase in troops that they had at the border and just focus on improving the economic, social and political situation at home.”
The United States Department of Defence has stepped up to offer a high-level presence this week in Guyana, with teams scheduled to visit in December.
The senior Government official noted that this visit presents an opportunity for the Department of Defence to be updated by Guyana’s Government, and for the position to be reinforced that the ICJ process must be allowed in an uninterrupted manner to progress to a finality.
He added, “It also sends a strong message throughout the Region and hopefully to Venezuela and President Nicolas Maduro that this is not only a controversy that has a negative effect on the development of Guyana but it will have a negative effect on the entire Latin American and Caribbean Region.”
The Prime Minister drew attention to the grave instability which this matter brings not only to the two countries but the entire Region – which has been built on a pedestal of peace and stability.
“We are a peaceful people. We respect international law and we expect peace to reign in our Region. While this may be a controversy with the border, it has a negative impact of creating instability not only in the two countries but throughout our Region – a Region that we are proclaiming to be of peace and stability…This particular controversy raised by Venezuela has the potential to make our Region unstable.”
Heartened by the fact international organisations such as Caricom, Commonwealth, the Organisation of American States and many others have condemned Venezuela’s move, the Prime Minister reiterated Guyana will continue to abide by the rule of law and pursue the case through the legal powers of the World Court.
Phillips underlined, “Essequibo belongs to Guyana and we don’t know how a country could go to their people through a referendum to annex part of another country. We will not have any of that. We will defend Guyana. We, however, expect that international law will rule here on this matter. We’re confident that the International Court will rule in our favour.”
At this time, the Government is expending efforts to engage communities across the country amid the December 3 referendum by Venezuela, in which it seeks to annex Guyana’s Essequibo region and integrate it into a new territory.
Guyana approached the World Court in March 2018 seeking a final and binding judgement 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 Spanish-speaking neighbour has laid claim to more than two-thirds of Guyana’s landmass in the Essequibo region and 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. The Guyana Government has already declared its commitment to resolve this longstanding border controversy with Venezuela through the legal process at the World Court. (Rupa Seenaraine)