Essequibians not interested in Venezuelan citizenship or ID cards
By Kurt Campbell
Hundreds of Guyanese living along the Essequibo Coast in Region Two (Pomeroon – Supenaam) on Sunday gathered at Anna Regina in steadfast support of the land they have long called home and in rejection of moves by neighbouring Venezuela to annex Guyana’s Cinderella Country – Essequibo.
A referendum to be held in Venezuela on December 03 seeks, among other things, their citizens support for the creation of a new state called the “Guayana Esequiba”, and promises the granting of Venezuelan citizenship and ID cards to Guyanese living there with stated plans to incorporate the territory on the map of Venezuela.
But loud shouts from the people who live and work the lands of Essequibo left no ambiguity in the minds of many that Essequibians are not interested.
Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo headlined the public engagement on the Guyana/Venezuela controversy and pointed out that there was no domestic division on the issue.
He said the entire country is in support of Essequibo remaining Guyana’s territory.
“People are fleeing your country; if you didn’t notice Delcy or Maduro… they don’t want your ID cards. We are happy to be Guyanese and live in our own country.
“We don’t want your ID cards, we don’t want you anywhere near our country,” Jagdeo rallied.
He said not only does Essequibo belongs to Guyana, as it has been for over 100 years, but he was happy that the citizens want it to remain that way forever.
“The Guyana Government and opposition agree that Essequibo has been Guyana since 1899,” Jagdeo said to loud applause, shouts and the waving of scores of flags by those gathered.
He assured residents that Venezuela will never succeed in changing Guyana’s boundary. He calls it Venezuela’s imperial design.
“Now and long into the future you will remain Essequibians and citizens of the country of Guyana.
“You will continue to live in a democratic country and you and your children will continue to share in the prosperity that is emerging in our country.
“Young people, older people, everyone and we must have this great sense of pride in our country,” Jagdeo posited.
He warned the Nicloas Maduro government not to question the resolve or unity of Guyanese or even worse, miscalculate Guyana’s response to any possible invasion.
Guyana is planning for all eventualities with defence teams from the United States to arrive here from this week.
And Jagdeo, confident that Guyana will remain 83,000 square miles, said should Venezuela succeed, then no boundary in the world will be safe.
“…If they succeed, that will mean that any country can one day decide to repudiate century old borders on the basis of spurious claims,” Jagdeo added.
The Guyanese Vice President took jabs at Venezuela’s Vice President Delcy Rodriguez who he said has been the bulldog in spreading lies surrounding the controversy.
Among those lies are that the borders between Guyana and Venezuela was never settled and that the 1899 arbitral award is void.
To this end, he said Guyanese must be careful not to spread those every lies being told by the Venezuelan authorities.
“Sometimes we spread their rumours more than trying to fight off the lies… spreading the rumors have created a lot of unease… many people are worried.
“In another part of the media we had to fight off another rumor… they said people are fleeing from Region One… we check the number of aircraft, it is the same.
“One guy said the ferry is overbooked… the ferry is always overbooked,” the VP pointed out.
Jagdeo reassured citizens that Guyana has the support of the world and all are waiting to see the juridical process at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to conclusion. He said too that Guyana has strong diplomatic and military support.
“When this border is settled and it will be settled by the International Court of Justice… we are prepared to talk on any other matter except that one issue because for long, the bilateral approach has not yielded results… we still have to live as neighbours,” Jagdeo told Guyanese.
He closed his presentation with a reassurance that Guyana is not warmongering or belligerent but said Venezuela cannot be trusted.
“They say they don’t want to do anything but we can’t trust them given the rhetoric coming from there.”
The border controversy is squarely before the World Court and Guyana hopes for a final, binding settlement that reaffirms the 1899 Arbitral Award that established the existing boundary between itself and Venezuela.
Essentially, Guyana wants the court to reaffirm that the Essequibo region is its own.
Jagdeo said Guyana is open to dialogue with Venezuela but there will be no stopping of the process before the ICJ.