St Vincent to host peace talks between Guyana & Venezuela

December 11, 2023 in Regional

The presidents of Guyana and Venezuela are set to hold talks in an effort to settle tension between both countries over disputed territory.

The talks were brokered by St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who is head of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Both leaders held phone calls with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro where a face-to-face meeting was proposed.

Gonsalves said the meeting will take place on December 14th in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Lula and Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, who is the chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), have also been invited to attend the meeting.

Gonsalves told reporters the “discussion would relate to matters consequential upon the border controversy which exists between Guyana and Venezuela.”

The discussion was one which Gonsalves said he was hoping to have taken place between the countries as their relations soured in months.

When asked by reporters what he hopes will be the outcome of these talks, Gonsalves said all he wants is peace between two nations that St Vincent and the Grenadines considers friends.

“I can’t answer what is going to be the outcome. What I do know with certainty, that it is better for people in conflict to be talking,” Gonsalves said.

“You can resolve misunderstandings — agent provocateurs can create challenges also. And if you’re talking, and you’re respectful, and you’re mature and understanding and wise, and you take your populations along with you in that particular process, you are less likely to end up with threats of force or the actual use of force.”

Gonsalves expressed his confidence that both leaders will hold “mature and wise, respectful, patient and calm” talks towards resolving the matter.

When asked further about what was the value of hosting the meeting when Guyana has made it clear that it wants the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to decide on the matter, Gonsalves responded by saying “there are many things to be addressed.”

“And the matter of the commitment to international law, the commitment to peace, to maintain the region as a zone of peace, and not to go to open conflict.

“All those things are of great importance. And I’m sure when leaders sit down, they will search for and find modalities to continue to maintain a peaceful coexistence. They are neighbours. Guyana and Venezuela are neighbours. You can’t take up either of them and carry them to Vladivostok. They are where they are and they have to live together,” Gonsalves said.

Meanwhile, Gonsalves is hoping that the Organisation of American States (OAS) will shelve a debate set for Monday on a resolution, which could see further action taken against Venezuela.

He said the region “must not allow anything to derail this initial face-to-face dialogue or subsequent ones.”