Georgetown, Guyana, September 28, 2015 – President David Granger is confident that a resort to the court to settle the Guyana-Venezuela border claims will yield a ruling in Guyana’s favour. He was at the time speaking at a press briefing subsequent to his United Nations (UN) facilitated meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolás Maduro at the UN Headquarters in New York.
“I am confident that the basis of the Venezuelan claim is that the 1899 award was invalid and I am confident that there is no evidence whatsoever to indicate the invalidity or the nullity of that award and that is why we feel we should go to court because Venezuela is trying to avoid going to court, Venezuela wants to embark on another round of bilateral talks, but we have talked for 50 years and gotten nowhere,” the President said.
During the meeting, President Granger informed UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon that from the time of Forbes Burnham to the term of Donald Ramotar, all past presidents of Guyana have been engaging with Venezuela at the bilateral level, but those talks have all been fruitless and as such, it is time for the matter to be taken to court.
“I am not confident that a settlement could exist outside of the court. It is a legal problem that has to have a legal solution; it is not a political matter that we can negotiate. I cannot overturn the award of an international tribunal… I am obliged under the Constitution to protect the full territorial space of Guyana,” the President emphasised.
He added that if Venezuela is claiming that the 1899 award is invalid, then evidence must be provided to support that claim. He reminded that the 1899, the tribunal awarded Venezuela 13,000 square feet of land, which is bigger than Jamaica.
“It is not as though they got nothing, they got substantial land the size of Jamaica but they want more and there is no evidence to show that the award of 1899 was invalid; if it was invalid then the grant of the 13,000 square feet of land was also invalid because that grant was part of the 1899 award,” President Granger explained.
However, the President saw Maduro’s decision to accept a delegation from the UN to investigate the matter as an encouraging sign. That envoy has already visited Guyana a few weeks ago when they flew over Regions One, Two and Seven as part of their investigations. President Granger said the land that they saw indicated that the territory was in effective occupation by Guyanese.