Venezuela’s Maduro conveys “great respect” for President Ali

…as new Guyanese ambassador pledges to strengthen bilateral relations

Amidst tension over the border controversy, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro stated that he has “great respect” for his Guyanese counterpart, President Dr Irfaan Ali.
He made this declaration earlier this week when he formally accredited Dr Richard Van West-Charles as Guyana’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
Ambassador Van West-Charles presented his credentials to President Maduro during a ceremony held at the Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas on Tuesday.
“President Maduro requested Ambassador Van West-Charles to convey a message of high regard to President Ali, stating his great respect for the President and the people of Guyana,” a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Georgetown detailed.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro with Guyana’s Ambassador to Caracas Dr Richard Van West-Charles

Meanwhile, Ambassador Van West-Charles conveyed greetings from President Ali and the people of Guyana to the Venezuelan leader. The Guyanese diplomat also expressed his commitment to work towards advancing the relations between Guyana and Venezuela.
The presentation of credentials signifies the commitment of Guyana and Venezuela to uphold diplomatic norms and pursue avenues for enhanced bilateral cooperation.
Ambassador Van West-Charles was accompanied by his spouse, Vivienne Roxane Van West-Charles, Counsellor, Robin Motayne, and Political Attache at the Embassy of Guyana in Caracas, Ganga Persaud.
Earlier this month, the Guyanese Ambassador presented his Letters of Credence to Minister for People’s Power for Foreign Affairs of Venezuela, Yvan Gil. Dr Van West-Charles and the Venezuelan Minister had engaged in cordial discussions during which the Guyanese diplomat affirmed the imperative of peace and cooperation as guiding principles for the relations between Guyana and Venezuela.

Guyana’s Ambassador to Venezuea Dr Richard Van West Charles presented his Letters of Credence to the Bolivarian Republic’s President Nicolás Maduro on Tuesday

Dr Van West Charles, a former Executive Member of the Peoples National Congress Reform (PNC/R) – the leading party in the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Opposition, was selected by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government as Guyana’s Ambassador to Venezuela in September 2023.
He is son-in-law of the late Guyanese President Forbes Burnham, who was also the founding leader of the PNC. Just two years ago, he was vying for the leadership of the PNC, but lost to Aubrey Norton. Dr West-Charles had also served as Head of the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) under the former APNU+AFC administration.

Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Hugh Todd had told Guyana Times last September that Government’s selection of Dr Van West-Charles for this position demonstrates the PPP/C administration’s commitment to “inclusive governance”.
Guyana’s last Ambassador to Caracas was Cheryl Miles, who had been appointed as Guyana’s Head of Mission in Venezuela back in 2016, and was removed from the post in December 2019.
Meanwhile, the Venezuelan Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Guyana is Carlos Amador Perez Silva, whose letters of credence were accepted by President Ali in April 2022.
Dr Van West-Charles’ accreditation in Caracas comes on the heels of heightened tensions between Guyana and Venezuela. The Spanish-speaking country continues to lay claim to more than two-thirds of Guyana’s landmass, the Essequibo, and a portion of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in which almost 11 billion barrels of oil have been discovered over the past eight years, and in which oil production activities are ongoing.
In 2018, Guyana moved to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) after exhausting all means of negotiation with Venezuela, including the good office process between the two South American neighbours. Guyana is seeking a final and binding ruling on the October 3, 1899 Arbitral Award to settle the longstanding border controversy.
Venezuela had challenged Guyana’s move to settle the matter but the ICJ ruled in December 2020 that it has jurisdiction to entertain the application for a final settlement. Having rejected both of Venezuela’s preliminary objections, the ICJ has set April 8, 2024 as the time limit for the filing of a Counter-Memorial by Venezuela.
However, tensions between Guyana and Venezuela have been simmering since then and escalated recently when the Maduro Government held a referendum on December 3, 2023 with the aim of annexing Guyana’s Essequibo region.
Following the referendum, President Maduro subsequently announced a series of actions including, among other things, issuing identification cards to Guyanese living in the Essequibo and issuing licences for mining and other activities in Guyana’s Essequibo County.
Given Venezuela’s threatening posture, the Caricom/ CELAC/ Brazil-brokered historic meeting was held on December 14, 2023 between Presidents Ali and Maduro in St Vincent and the Grenadines, and was geared towards maintaining peace in the region.
The two South American leaders came 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.
Even as Guyana reaffirms its commitment to the judicial process before the World Court, it was also agreed that a Joint Commission of Foreign Minister and Technicians of Guyana and Venezuela would be established and meet on behalf of the two presidents in Brazil to continue peace dialogue.
That first meeting of the Joint Commission of Foreign Ministers and Technicians was held on January 25 in Brasilia. Guyana’s delegation was led by Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Hugh Todd, who described the meeting as a “good start” to creating a better future of good neighbourliness for the next generations. (G8)