A message to Maduro from President Ali: ‘You will not disrupt our lives’
By Fareeza Haniff
Thousands of Guyanese gathered at the National Stadium at Providence, East Bank Demerara on Sunday night to witness a ‘Night of Patriotic Reflection’.
The event featured songs, dancing and poetry from talented Guyanese artistes as the nation banded together to rebuke Venezuela’s illegal attempts to seize two-thirds of the country’s territory.
Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, President Dr Irfaan Ali addressed the gathering and had a message for the people of Venezuela, their President, Nicolas Maduro and Vice President, Delcy Rodriguez.
“Nothing you say, no amount of propaganda or lies, would drive fear in my heart or in the heart of any Guyanese. You will not disrupt our lives,” the Head of State said to resounding applause.
He urged the Spanish leader to honour last Friday’s ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which stated that the Essequibo region has been governed by Guyana for the past 124 years and Venezuela “shall” refrain from any action that would “modify” or change this.
“Today, you have a responsibility; you can honour the order of the ICJ, you can show that you care about this region, that you care about your people, that you care about peace, and that you are about peace, by honouring the orders of the ICJ.
“And those orders make it very clear – you can take no action that would change the status quo as it is today. And that status quo is that the Essequibo belongs to Guyana and Essequibo is administered by Guyana,” the Guyanese Head of State said to Maduro.
He continued, “Of course, you can reject logic, you can reject facts, you can reject history, you can reject honesty, and you can reject the orders of the Court but where would that put your people and your country?
“Unless your country and your people are not important to you. Unless you believe you’re superior to your country and your people.”
Noting that Guyana’s first line of defence is diplomacy, the Head of State reiterated that the country will not be caught off-guard if the Maduro Government decides to take action following its December 3 sham referendum.
“We’re not closing any relationship with the people of Venezuela, but let me be very clear, we’re not going to be trampled upon. We’re not going to be caught off-guard.
“We will do everything within the confines of international law and human dignity to protect what is ours, to protect our borders, to protect the Essequibo,” President Ali assured Guyanese.
He sought to allay the fears of many citizens and promised that he would be on the front lines.
“I want every Guyanese to know, regardless of the circumstances, how difficult it is, how easy it is, how burdensome it is, how dangerous it is, you will never see me away from you. I will be with you at the front, by your side, every single time, every single moment.
“You can be assured of that. Do not worry about this. I will be at the front of any circumstance that requires my leadership for Guyana, and the people of Guyana. Make no mistake of this,” he said.
‘Do not point guns at us’
Speaking directly to Venezuelans, the Head of State reminded them of their responsibility to the next generation.
Guyana is home to thousands of Venezuelan migrants who fled their country due to severe economic hardships, and taking this into consideration, President Ali urged them not to be violent in their endeavours.
“You are our neighbours, our friends, our brothers and sisters; you have our love, do not misplace our love; you have our open arms, do not destroy those arms. You have a responsibility to the next generation of Venezuelans to ensure that they live in dignity, they live in prosperity and in honour and that should be your focus.
“We will cheer you on as you work for the advancement of your people. And so too, we ask you not to point guns at us as we work for the advancement of every Guyanese,” President Ali said.
Highlighting that Guyana is a peaceful country, the Head of State assured that his government would do nothing to disrupt the peace within the region.
But he reminded that “Guyana will do everything if anyone tries to disrupt the peace we enjoy here.”