Georgetown, Guyana – (October 22, 2015) In a move that shows no regard for diplomacy, Venezuela’s Ambassador to Ottawa, Canada issued a warning letter to Guyana Goldfields Incorporated, Canadian mining company operating in Guyana, informing them, that its operations are “infringing on the territorial sovereignty of Venezuela”. Guyana Goldfields has a mining operation in the Cuyuni-Mazaruni Region.
This latest move by the Bolivarian Republic comes in spite of President’s Nicolas Maduro’s participation in a meeting with United Nations’ (UN) Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, where he agreed to allow a team from the UN to visit that country to assess the issues surrounding the border claim. As the Parliament of Guyana reconvened today, President David Granger took the opportunity to inform members of the House, the diplomatic and civil societies and the wider Guyanese public of this latest action.
The President said that the Ottawa letter reflects the approach adopted by the late President Hugo Chávez Frias during his state visit to Guyana in February 2004 when he told the press that his administration would have no objection to everyday infrastructure works such as roads, water and electricity that directly enhance the lives of residents, major offshore oil exploration ventures, mineral exploration or the involvement of foreign governments were another matter.
“Venezuela’s claims are not only illegal; they are injurious to the economic development of Guyana. Venezuela, therefore, must desist from hindering our economic development in an obtrusive and obstructive manner that is tantamount to interference in our internal affairs. It must desist from threatening investors,” the President said.
He questioned whether Venezuelan leaders derive satisfaction from the prolongation of this controversy and said that unlike Venezuela, Guyana has always been respectful to the governments and people of neighbouring states.
He maintained that Guyana favours a juridical settlement through recourse to the International Court of Justice and said that, “Venezuela’s fear is that, once a juridical process could prove that its contention that the Arbitral Award of 1899 was a nullity is proven to be baseless, its fifty-year strategy of attrition, aimed at gaining territory from Guyana, stands in jeopardy of the prospect of collapse.”
Guyana is currently awaiting the report of the UN Mission that visited both Guyana and Venezuela earlier this month and President Granger expressed his full confidence in the capacity of Secretary General to identify solutions that will validate the nature of the Arbitral Tribunal Award of 1899.
More recently, Guyana’s eastern neighbour has renewed its interest in the New River Triangle area. The President explained that there is an agreement as to what constitutes the territory of Guyana and that of Suriname. However, in the absence of a formal treaty, the Dutch country has sought to seize Guyana’s territory.
He said that while Guyana is willing to continue a bilateral discourse with the Government of Suriname on this matter, such discourse must be grounded on the principles of mutual respect and a repudiation of the use of force.
“Guyana has no doubt about the soundness of the bases on which it exercises sovereignty of its territory. It has no fear in having Suriname’s claim to its territory resolved by an adjudicatory process,” he said.
He said that Guyana has already made a large portion of its documents available to Suriname for its scrutiny and expressed the hope that the Suriname Government will do likewise by requesting the Netherlands Government to open the relevant Dutch Archives to facilitate research by both sides.
President David Granger being led into the Parliament Chamber by Prime Minister and Leader of the House, Moses Nagamootoo
“Suriname, if it is convinced that its claim can withstand legal scrutiny, should agree to take the matter before an internationally recognised adjudicatory body. Guyana is of the view that, if an agreement cannot be reached at the bilateral level, within a given time-frame, the matter should be taken to adjudication so that this controversy can be concluded,” the President said.
The President made it clear that Guyana will continue to work with both Venezuela and Suriname to make the region a more peaceful, prosperous place and to pursue cooperation arrangements, but not to the detriment of its territorial integrity and sovereignty.
He noted that Guyana has never and will never violate any international treaty to which it is a party but said that, “as far as Guyana is concerned, the border takes first place.”
Members of the House at the new session of 11th Parliament