President Ali vows to see end to Venezuela’s territorial claims
In an address to the nation to mark Guyana’s 55th Independence Anniversary, President Irfaan Ali has once again rebuffed Venezuela’s claims to Guyana’s territory and said that although it has persisted for all of the country’s years of independence, he intends to see an end to it.
The President said Guyana continues to rely on its friends across the globe to support a peaceful resolution to the border controversy, which is currently before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
“My brothers and sisters, we cannot recall the moment of Guyana’s Independence without also remembering the efforts of Venezuela to prevent it.
As we released ourselves from the colonial cord of Britain, the Venezuelan government sought to stifle our birth by falsely laying claim to two-thirds of our country. They have spent the last 55 years of the Independence of all of Guyana pursuing this claim—but international law is not silent,” Dr. Ali said in his address on Tuesday night.
The Head-of-State is confident that the ICJ is the forum where the voice of international law will be heard and justice will be determined.
“As one people, with one united voice, and a spirit that will not be broken, we will advance the validity of the 122-year-old award that fixed our boundaries. In our continuing struggle, we are not without friends. We deeply appreciate all those who have stood by our side – from the Caribbean, from the Commonwealth, from the Americas and beyond,” he added.
The President said the Venezuelans must understand that Guyana has sought no quarrel with them and it does not do so now. He said his only wish, and that of every Guyanese, is to live in harmony and cooperation with all neighbours.
“We hold out not a fist of war but a hand of friendship, based on respect for our borders and theirs. But we will not be cowered, nor will we be bullied,” he said.
The President urged unity on the matter of protecting Guyana’s territorial integrity.
The case currently before the ICJ was instituted on March 29, 2018, by Guyana against Venezuela; Guyana is asking the ICJ to pronounce on the legal validity and binding effect of the 1899 Arbitral Award which determined the boundaries between the two countries.
A December 2020 judgment handed down by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear the Guyana/Venezuela controversy case.
Venezuela is maintaining a claim to 70% of Guyana’s territory, arguing that the 1899 agreement, which determined the boundaries between the two countries, is null and void.