DDL staff briefed on Guyana/Venezuela border controversy

--Chairman says no threat to employment, company’s national investment footprint


See below full statement issued by DDL:

The staff of various sections of Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) were yesterday assured that a military invasion of Guyana by Venezuela is not imminent but that the Guyana Government is assessing all the scenarios that President Nicolas Maduro could employ in pursuit of his country’s baseless claim to the Essequibo region of Guyana.

This assurance came from National Security Advisor Gerry Gouveia who briefed DDL staff members about the current situation regarding Venezuela’s upcoming referendum on Sunday and sought to allay any fears being harbored about an imminent military invasion following Sunday’s referendum.

He said the government, the opposition and all Guyana are united on the issue of the Essequibo and that following the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on two questions listed as part of the referendum to which Guyana objects, the recent actions on the part of Venezuela will be officially brought to the attention of the United Nations Security Council.

And DDL chairman Komal Samaroo assured employees that their jobs are in no way threatened and that the company’s national expansion and diversification program including projects in Bartica, Anna Regina and Lethem will continue according to plans.

DDL chairman Komal Samaroo assured employees that their jobs are in no way threatened

Gouveia in responding to questions advised that Guyana has been discussing with its allies including the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom, France and CARICOM member states among others, possible deterrents and responses to any Venezuelan military or other provocative action in the Essequibo region.

“While our Guyana Defence Force (GDF) soldiers are a brave and well -trained set of people, the reality is that we do not have the capacity to take on a much larger and much better equipped Venezuelan army of almost half a million strong. Invading Guyana to occupy territory will have to be done through our rivers and we have the capacity to monitor such movements and have been doing so. But a large -scale influx of thousands of Venezuelans each day coming to occupy what they claim is theirs will pose a challenge and so we are working with our international partners on strategies for dealing with this,” Gouveia said.

He told the DDL employees that “the Venezuelan people are our friends and we have our contacts within the Venezuelan communities in Guyana to identify any persons who might have been sent to undertaken any disruptive activities. So you must continue to interact with your colleagues and friends in the Venezuelan communities in Guyana while remaining vigilant to flush out those who want to provoke trouble.”

Asked about the threat to cybersecurity the National Security Advisor said that this is one aspect of the discussions taking place both internally and with international partners to ensure the highest possible level of security of the nation’s communications platforms.

Samaroo meanwhile suggested that a long -term strategy for securing the Essequibo region should include encouraging increased economic activity including local and foreign investment especially in Region One. He also pointed to the need for some form of National Defence Commission that would include government, opposition and all relevant stakeholders to guide the nation’s long-term efforts at protecting the claimed area.

Employees participating in the briefing sessions, attendance at which was voluntary expressed full agreement that the Essequibo region belongs to Guyana.

Gouveia was taken on a tour of just one of the many projects currently being undertaken at Diamond and witnessed the “dry run” of a multi-million US dollar beverage packaging plant which goes into operation tomorrow.

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