Guyana not encouraging acts of aggression but ready to defend territorial integrity – AG
By Vishani Ragobeer
Though Guyana has been faced with acts of aggression from Venezuela, which has been claiming a large portion of Guyanese land, the country is not encouraging any of those acts but stands to defend its territorial integrity.
This is the view of the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall SC, who was speaking to residents of Charity in Region Two (Pomeroon- Supenaam) during a Cabinet outreach there on Saturday.
These residents, the Attorney General explained, live on the “frontier” of the border controversy Guyana is faced with.
And as such, he said, “… we depend on you and we will support you in asserting our position.”
Over the past few years, Venezuela has intensified its claims to some 70 per cent of Guyana’s land – the Essequibo region including Guyana’s offshore oil reserves – arguing that the 1899 agreement, which determined the boundaries between the two countries is null and void.
The Attorney General pointed, “We are not misbehaving, we are not inciting or encouraging any acts of aggression that will compromise our case.”
He added, “We are simply doing what the law entitles and empowers us to do.”
After other engagements failed, Guyana approached the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to seek a final, binding judgment on the 1899 Arbitral Award that determines that boundary between Guyana and Venezuela. Simply, Guyana is trying to get a final judgment that the Essequibo region does indeed belong to Guyana and not Venezuela.
In December 2020, the ICJ ruled that it has the authority to rule on this case. With the court ruling that it has the jurisdiction to hear the case filed by Guyana, the country has been given until March 8, 2022, to file written pleadings in its case against Venezuela. Meanwhile, Venezuela has until March 8, 2022, to file counterarguments.
But it was only a few months ago, in January, that a 12-member Guyanese fishing crew was detained by Venezuelan troops though they were fishing off the post of the Waini Point which is located in Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Those men were eventually released after the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and a number of countries in the wider international community condemned Venezuela’s actions.
Nandlall, like President Dr. Irfaan Ali who spoke to other residents of the region on Friday, emphasised that Guyana’s case is properly before the ICJ. There, he said that Guyana is committed to the lawful process that is available to nations to resolve this controversy.
This border controversy is part of the government’s focus as it engages in an outreach activity in the region on Friday and Saturday. This is because this region is part of the Essequibo that is being claimed by Venezuela. Later on Saturday, an update on the border controversy will be conducted at the Region Two Regional Democratic Council (RDC) boardroom.