UN, int’l partners & foreign military being briefed on Maduro’s ‘desperate actions’ – Pres. Ali
By Vishani Ragobeer
In an address to the nation live from State House at 11:20 PM on Tuesday, President Dr. Irfaan Ali told Guyanese that his government has informed the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s recent declarations on Guyana’s Essequibo region.
The President said the international community is also being engaged, the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) is on “full alert” and engaging its foreign military counterparts, including the United States Southern Command (US SOUTHCOM).
Following Maduro’s sham December 3 referendum in which he claimed victory over Guyana’s Essequibo region, he revealed on Tuesday a redrawn of his country’s map so that it now includes the Essequibo region.
He also ordered the creation of new entities to grant licences for oil, gas and mines exploration in the Essequibo region; he proposed the creation of a new law to establish new environmentally protected areas that could be centres for tourism and biodiversity.
In response, President Ali said Guyana views this as an “imminent threat” to territorial integrity, noting that none of these actions will be accepted by the international community and assured Guyanese that the government will do all it can to protect the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
He said the UN Security Council will also be updated on the latest developments.
“To my fellow Guyanese, we are here to ensure the safety of this country, the territory of this country, the sovereignty of this country and to protect every citizen,” President Ali said.
He described Maduro’s recent declarations as “desperate actions” and advised against doing anything that would interfere with the peace and stability of the region.
“They have literally declared themselves an outlaw nation but nothing that they do will stop Guyana from pursuing the case (before) the International Court of Justice.
“We will not allow our territory to be violated nor our territory will be violated,” President Ali declared.
He also added, “Let me be very clear: President Maduro’s actions are an open defiance of the ICJ order. In my opinion, he is testing the mettle of the ICJ.
“Reckless actions can only bring instability to this region and can only create more uncertain standards for the Venezuelan people.”
The ICJ, which is presiding over the substantive border case, ruled last Friday that Venezuela shall refrain from seeking to seize control of the Essequibo.
The boundary between Guyana and Venezuela was determined by an arbitration tribunal 124 years ago, but Venezuela rejected the award in 1962, saying it was flawed. A mechanism was set up to solve the controversy and after decades of talks failed, the United Nations Secretary General referred the matter to the ICJ, which is the UN’s principal judicial organ.
The court has determined it can hear and decide on the case, but Venezuela put forward the symbolic referendum before the Court can rule.
Guyana sought protection and that’s where the Court ruled Friday that the Essequibo has been recognised as Guyanese territory and has been governed by Guyana since the 1899 award and Venezuela should refrain from interrupting Guyanese sovereignty of the territory.
Venezuela still went ahead with its referendum although there are regional and international reports that there was low voter turnout.
Guyana insists, as does the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Secretaries-General of the United Nations and Organization of American States, and the entire international community, that the controversy over the validity of the Arbitral Award and the land boundary must be resolved by the International Court of Justice, which will assure a just, peaceful, binding and permanent solution to this matter, in accordance with international law.