Venezuela’s ‘gimmick of a referendum’ backfired – AG


Acknowledging that Guyana knew it would have been an “uphill” task to stop Venezuelan’s December 3 referendum, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall on Monday said that the referendum “backfired” on the Nicolas Maduro government.

“This gimmick of a referendum backfired, it back fired,” Nandlall said.

The Attorney General made the disclosure during a symposium held by the Guyana Bar Association on Venezuela’s referendum at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre.

As he reflected on the history leading up to the border controversy with Venezuela, Nandlall said there is no evidence to invalidate the legal foundation of the 1899 Arbitral Award, which established the land boundary between the two states.

“Absolutely not a scintilla of evidence that can stand up in a court of municipal law, more so international law, has been produced to impugn, invalidate or to even shake the legal foundation of the Arbitral Award. None at all,” Nandlall said.

In fact, the Attorney General noted that international legal process will not allow Venezuela’s contention over Guyana to succeed.

“If Venezuela is to get away with this gimmick, it will bring into question, or it will allow for dozens of international disputes similarly resolved, involving borders, other international questions that have been resolved by arbitration, mediation, conciliation and other peaceful methods of resolving disputes,” he said.

Attorney Kim-Kyte Thomas

Stating that Guyana does not have the military might as that of Venezuela, Nandlall said the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) is “committed” and “ready” for the next move.

“It is my considered view that having regard to the historic role that the U.S. has played in this matter and to some extent, the British government, they cannot be officious bystanders. They cannot be in the position of the ordinary states on this issue. They have a duty, in my humbled view, to ensure that a process that they engineered and participated in is respected,” Nandlall noted.

Meanwhile, during her brief presentation on the topic, attorney Kim Kyte-Thomas said the matter can be resolved at the diplomatic level.

She believes now is the time for the international community to pressure the Venezuelan Government.

“I still have a strong belief that this matter could be resolved through diplomacy.

“I believe that the international bodies, CARICOM, they must all put pressure on the leadership of the country. Pressure needs to be placed on the leadership of the country because States have an obligation to comply with the principles of international law and what we see happening here is a State going on a folic of its own and there are dire consequences for that,” Kyte-Thomas said.

The International Court of Justice (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.

1 Comment
  1. Stephen Monohar Kangal says

    I concur with AG Anil Nandlal that Venezuela has not advanced any plausible information in support of its outlandish and baseless claim to the Essequibo Region except that it was at one time a part of the Spanish Empire and attached to Venezuela for administrative purposes under the Captaincy General of Caracas.
    So was T&T until 1797 when the British took over T&T from the Spaniards.
    Bellicose conduct, vain rhetoric and a sham referendum that ignore the colonial history of the struggle for colonies by the Europeans in the region is an exercise in futility that cannot validate and support Venezuela’s imperialistic unilateral attempt to appropriate three quarters of a foreign neighbouring country and will not resonate and gain traction in the Hague where the matter is being transacted at present.
    In the full knowledge that it has no real case to present to the adjudicatory process of the ICJ and although a founding member of the ICJ in the Hague, Venezuela is attempting to do a number of things namely:
    1.Refusing to recognise the jurisdiction as well as judgments delivered by the ICJ in the current dispute;
    2. Participating in the proceedings of the ICJ and yet insulting the intelligence of he Panel of Judges by telling them that they must not construe that participation to be an act of recognition of the status and locus standi of the Court to adjudicate in the bilateral dispute;
    3 By its Consultative Referendum it is impugning the integrity of the Court, delaying the proceedings and attempting to scuttle its role and function of using international law and its own jurisprudence to adjudicate on the dispute.
    I cannot see how attorney Thomas can advocate a return to diplomacy in this dispute settlement procedure to solve the boundary issue when the matter is squarely and irretrievably before the ICJ.
    The Government of Guyana and the National Assembly in particular have now rejected this mechanism in its official statements and diplomacy and the good offices of the UNSG after 50 years of dialogue has failed to bring about an amicable solution while this albatross hangs loosely around the collective necks of the people of Guyana for over 61 years.
    I propose to outline how Guyana got more than what it bargained for or anticipated as result of its quite successful and erudite application, the quality of the unassailable submissions to the ICJ to issue Provisional Measures and from the Judgment of the Court of 1 December 2023.
    Guyana has every right to be proud of its unmatched, wholly convincing, unimpeachable and impregnable performance before the ICJ that induced to Court to accede to its request for Provisional Measures and a little more.
    It was a clear case of 12 Davids vanquishing the 27 Goliaths in the Peace Palace in the Hague.

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