GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Friday July 10, 2015 – The war of words between Venezuela and Guyana is continuing, with the presidents of both countries accusing each other of violating law and each claiming innocence of that charge.
In the latest salvo, Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro accused Guyana’s president David Granger of being “an agent provocateur”, whose objective “is to divide the Caribbean”.
“I do not think he represents the Latin American and Caribbean conscience or the interest of the Guyanese people. He has come to ignore international law, the mechanism to resolve conflict through dialogue, and try to impose a position that totally ignores history, reality, and international law as a whole,” Maduro said in an interview yesterday with Venezuelan television news channel, TeleSUR.
The two leaders have been at odds since Maduro issued Decree 1.787 claiming territorial waters in the Essequibo region of the Atlantic Ocean that encompasses an area equivalent to about two-thirds of Guyanese territory, including an area where US oil giant ExxonMobil recently discovered oil.
Addressing Parliament yesterday, Granger denied any wrongdoing on Guyana’s part.
“We have never, as an independent state, provoked or used aggression against any other nation, we have never used our political clout to veto development projects in another country,” he said.
“Guyana has no interest or intention to be aggressive towards Venezuela, a country of 912,050 km2, more than four times the size of Guyana; a country with a population of more than 40 times that of Guyana; a country with armed forces, the National Bolivarian Armed Forces, with more than 20 times as many members as Guyana’s Defence Force.”
Although reiterating that diplomacy would remain Guyana’s first option as it stands resolute against all forms of aggression, Granger insisted that his country had never discouraged investors willing to invest in another country, never stymied development of another nation state and, as such, “does not expect and will we condone, any country attempting to do the same to us”.
“We will not allow our territorial integrity to be threatened or violated, we consider Decree 1.787 as constituting an act of aggression against Guyana,” he added.
He pointed out that both CARICOM and Commonwealth have thrown their support behind Guyana.
And he said he expects the Venezuelan Government to observe, fully, the 1897 Treaty, the 1899 Arbitral Award, the 1905 demarcation of the boundary between Guyana and Venezuela pursuant to the Arbitral Award, the 1966 Agreement and other formally ratified documents between the two states.
“Our objective in the short term is to have all threats withdrawn; we shall be seeking a permanent juridical solution under the auspices of the Geneva Agreement and under international law, in the long term,” the Guyana president said.
In addition to issuing the decree, President Maduro this week announced the recall of Venezuela’s Ambassador to Guyana and a reduction in the staff at the Venezuelan embassy in Georgetown.