Defence Meeting in Brazil: Venezuela’s aggression not only threatens Guyana’s sovereignty, but also stability of Region – PM Phillips

– says Guyana has always adopted a peaceful approach

Regional peace and border security were among topics discussed during a Defense and Foreign Affairs Meeting in Brazil, where Guyana was represented by a delegation led by Prime Minister Brigadier (retired) Mark Phillips, who informed the forum of the threat posed by Venezuela to Guyana and the region at large.
Delivering an address at the inaugural South American Dialogue Meeting between Defense and Foreign Ministers in Brasilia, Brazil, Phillips spoke extensively about the rising tension between Guyana and Venezuela, the military buildup on the border, and the December 3 referendum planned by the Spanish-speaking country.

PM Brigadier (Retired) Mark Phillips led Guyana’s delegation to the meeting. To the far left is acting Commissioner of Police Clifton Hicken

“Besides posing an existential threat to Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, in violation of International Law, it represents a threat to the peace and stability of the region as a whole,” Phillips told the forum.
According to Phillips, Guyana has always adopted a peaceful approach, even approaching the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for a final, binding and peaceful solution. By turning to the ICJ, Phillips noted, Guyana is seeking provisional measures to prevent Venezuela’s threats from escalating.
On the other hand, he pointed out that Venezuela’s referendum is a threat to stability in the region, and by challenging Guyana’s territorial integrity, the referendum and the inflammatory rhetoric of the Venezuelan politicians are an “existential threat” to Guyana.
In his address to the forum, the Prime Minister further stressed that “no effort should be spared” to avoid conflict and ensure that the South American region remains a “zone of peace and cooperation”.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister also spoke about other geopolitical conflicts, including the Russian/Ukraine conflict. Guyana, he said, continues to condemn Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty, and he expressed alarm over the crisis in Gaza.
Further, he expressed Guyana’s solidarity with Haiti as he spoke about the deteriorating situation, which he described as “deeply concerning”. According to the Prime Minister, there is a need for inter-state collaboration that will go towards regional safety and security.
According to Phillips, the UN Charter and international law must serve as a “guarantee for peace”. He also reaffirmed Guyana’s commitment “to the Charter of the UN, to the purposes and principles of the organization, including the peaceful settlement of disputes.” And with Guyana slated to be a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council from next year, Phillips also emphasized Guyana’s readiness to play its role in confronting existing and emerging threats to international peace and security “in a principled manner.”
The first South American meeting on political-military dialogue was convened by the Government of Brazil in keeping with the mandate of the Brasilia Consensus dated May 30, 2023. The consensus had been agreed upon by the Presidents of the South American Region, and was aimed at the resumption of regular dialogues on strategic regional issues.
Phillips has lauded the initiative. “This defence forum offers a valuable platform for reinforcing our collective aspirations for a safe and secure region. We are inherently connected by geography, unified by culture, and interdependent in trade.

It is through this intricate network of relationships that we strive to uphold and enhance peace and stability across our region. Brazil’s initiative to lead our region at this critical juncture is indeed commendable,” he said.
Prime Minister Phillips, who is a former Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), was accompanied by Commissioner of Police (ag) Clifton Hicken, along with GDF Colonel General Staff Colonel Kenlloyd Roberts, as part of Guyana’s delegation in Brazil.
On its Twitter page, the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, meanwhile, announced that coming out of the meetings, avenues of establishing regular dialogue among South American countries, in priority areas such as border security and humanitarian aid, were explored.
“The meeting allowed reflections on international and regional peace and security, as well as exchanges on cooperation in defence. On the agenda were peacekeeping, transversality between women, peace and security, as well as the defence industrial base and Antarctic and cyber cooperation,” the Ministry said.
Venezuela has laid claim to more than two-thirds of Guyana’s landmass, Essequibo, and to a portion of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) where nearly 11 billion barrels of oil have been discovered by oil giant Exxon Mobil.
It is also steamrolling ahead with a December 3 referendum, seeking a mandate from the Venezuelan people to annex Essequibo, while Guyana has approached the International Court of Justice for an injunction against this.