Meeting of CARICOM Heads needed before Venezuela’s referendum – Professor Kirton
By Kurt Campbell
Describing Venezuela as a “class bully” in wake of the Nicolas Maduro government’s ambitions to annex Guyana’s resource rich Essequibo region through a December 03, 2023 referendum, respected Guyanese academic Dr Mark Kirton believes the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) must drum up its support for Guyana now more than ever.
Participating as one of three distinguished panelists in a discussion and awareness session on the Guyana/Venezuela border controversy at the Bishops’ High School in Georgetown on Friday, Dr. Kirton reiterated his call for a meeting of CARICOM Heads before the December 03 vote in Venezuela.
But why a meeting when CARICOM has already issued dozens of statements in support of Guyana?
As the Honorary Senior Fellow at the University of the West Indies sees it, the meeting is needed even if it is to offer a new pledge of unwavering support for Guyana.
But more seriously, he said urgent consideration must be given to enhanced regional security system to serve as part of a deterrence mission to Guyana.
That mission, he explained briefly, will be part of Guyana’s response to counter any possible invasion from Venezuela after the December 03 referendum.
“Diplomacy must continue to be our first line of defence.
“We need enhanced robust relationships with countries like Brazil and greater alliance with countries not only in this hemisphere but also with the African Union and the BRICS, Russia.
“We have to go to all of those who have been, in a sense, on the fence and get the unequivocal support from our own brothers and sisters in the region,” Dr. Kirton posited.
But Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, SC, has said that Guyana is confident in the collective and national support of all 14-member states of the regional bloc.
Nandlall shared the panel with Dr. Kirton and Guyana’s Agent to the International Court of Justice, Carl Greendige. The session was moderated by Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand.
Nandlall said the Guyana Government has already received the support of CARICOM Heads, noting it has resulted in the dissemination of possibly the strongest statement in support of Guyana thus far.
“That statement embodies a view of every single CARICOM Head of State and CARICOM nation.
“When you read the language and tone of the statement, there is not a single person who can sense any equivocation or any ambiguity regarding that support.
“There is unqualified and reserved support for Guyana, its territory and people on this matter,” Nandlall said in an invited comment to the News Room.
But in direct response to Dr. Kirton’s call, Nandlall said any moves to another engagement dedicated for this purpose is a matter that the government, as a collective, will have to decide on.
The last statement from CARICOM on October 25, 2023 read in part: “CARICOM earnestly hopes that Venezuela is not raising the prospect of using force or military means to get its own way in this controversy over territory. After all, it has been the long-standing position of Latin American and Caribbean counties, including Venezuela that our region must remain a zone of peace.
“Meanwhile, CARICOM insists that the Referendum proposed by Venezuela has no validity, bearing, or standing in international law in relation to this controversy; the Referendum is a purely domestic construct, but its summary effect is likely to undermine peace, tranquility, security, and more, in our region.”
CARICOM also reiterated its support, in that statement, for the judicial process to be followed and expresses the hope that Venezuela will engage fully in that process before the International Court of Justice which has determined that it has the jurisdiction in the case brought before it to determine the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award which Venezuela questions.
The Court’s final decision will ensure a resolution that is peaceful, equitable and in accordance with international law.