Guyana calls on Venezuela to show ‘maturity and responsibility’

The content originally appeared on: Caribbean News Service

Guyana on Sunday urged the Venezuelan government to “show maturity and responsibility” as Caracas moves ahead with a planned “consultative referendum” regarding the ownership of the mineral rich Essequibo region in Guyana.

In an early morning broadcast, President Irfaan Ali said that Caracas should avoid becoming an international outcast” and not to go ahead with the referendum.

“I am not going to get into the internal politics of Venezuela and their policy-making but I want to advise Venezuela that this is an opportunity for them to show maturity and an opportunity to show responsibility.

“We call upon them once more to join us, to join us in demonstrating maturity and responsibility and to allow the rule of law to determine the outcome of this controversy,” Ali said.

On Friday, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Venezuela must not take any action to seize the mineral and forest-rich county of Essequibo in Guyana based on its upcoming referendum.

Both Georgetown and Caracas had made presentations to the ICJ during two days of hearing earlier this month into the case relating to the 1899 Arbitral Award after Guyana, in its request, had said that the Venezuela government, through its National Electoral Council, had published a list of five questions that it intends to put before the people of Venezuela in a “Consultative Referendum” on Sunday.

In its ruling, the ICJ issued a number of provisional measures that “unanimously pending a final decision in the case, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela shall refrain from taking any action, which would modify the situation that currently prevails in the territory in dispute, whereby the Cooperative Republic of Guyana administers and exercises control over that area”.

The ICJ said also that “unanimously both parties shall refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the court or make it more difficult to resolve.

“The court emphasizes that the question of the validity of the 1899 Award and the related question of the definitive settlement of the land boundary dispute between Guyana and Venezuela are matters for the court to decide at the merits stage.

“The court recalls that Guyana has requested to indicate measures aimed at ensuring the non aggravation of the dispute with Venezuela, when indicating provisional measures for the purpose of reserving specific rights.”

Venezuela said it had taken “note” of the ruling by the ICJ with regards to what Caracas termed “the unusual and interventionist provisional measures requested by the Cooperative Republic of Guyana against the consultative referendum scheduled for December 3, 2023”.

But Caracas said it would continue with plans to hold the referendum called by the Electoral Branch at the request of the Parliament on Sunday regarding the ownership of the mineral and forest-rich county of Essequibo.

“Nothing and no one will prevent the Venezuelan people from expressing themselves freely on December 3 on their own, internal and extremely important issue, such as territorial integrity.

“Venezuela reiterates that it will firmly maintain its unwavering defense of international legality and the Geneva Agreement as the only legal instrument that allows reaching a practical and satisfactory solution for both parties, through friendly, political and peaceful negotiations.”

In his early morning broadcast, President Ali also spoke directly to the people of Venezuela ahead of the referendum, reminding them that the two countries are neighbours.

“I want to speak directly to the Venezuelan people. We are your neighbours,and we are taught to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. And long after this controversy, we will live together as neighbours. You have to determine within yourselves whether you want to be part of a system that runs afoul of international law, that runs afoul based on all the feedback internationally”.

Ali told Guyanese population that there is nothing to fear and that the country’s vigilance will be enhanced and Guyana will continue to work around the clock to ensure that the borders remain intact and that the people of Guyana remain safe.

“I am proud of the way, Guyanese, and every one of us, have handled this challenge”, Ali said, adding he is also proud of the level of patriotism and the togetherness he continues to see from Guyanese across the country, noting that it is something that the country must take forward in enhancing a more united Guyana.

President Ali returned early from the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 28) being held in Dubai. He said he met and held talks with a number of world leaders, briefing them on the current situation with Venezuela.

He offered thanks to those who have offered their full support of Guyana and the judicial process, and urged the more quiet ones to speak up against Venezuela’s continued aggression against Guyana.

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