Brazil’s Lula urges Mercosur to speak out as defiant Maduro forges ahead with illegal actions
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Thursday called on the South American trade bloc – Mercosur – to speak out on the rising tensions in the Guyana/Venezuela border controversy.
In a tweet on X, Lula said “an important issue that we have to debate is the Essequibo issue. Mercosur cannot stay away from the issue.”
The foreign ministers of the four Mercosur trading bloc nations met in Rio de Janeiro for its 63rd group meeting this week. The South American alliance is set to announce several milestones before Brazil hands over the bloc’s rotating presidency to Paraguay and Lula wants the Guyana/Venezuela issue to also be addressed.
Venezuela is a full member but has been suspended since December 2016. Mercosur counts Guyana and six other states as associate members.
Already, the Brazilian Government has expressed its support for the current International Court of Justice (ICJ) process to resolve the controversy over the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award.
But with new moves by the Nicolas Maduro government to essentially annex the Essequibo region, Lula is recommending mediation.
“I suggest that CELAC fellow current president can discuss the issue with both parties: Guyana and Venezuela.
“Brazil is available to host as many negotiation meetings as necessary. We do not want and do not need more war, especially on our continent. We have to build peace to improve people’s lives,” the Brazilian Head of State said,
Guyana’s position is that the matter is squarely before the ICJ for resolution.
There is no interest on the Guyana side to return to bilateral talks on the issue since many decades of these talks yielded no fruits.
Guyana, however, remains open to dialogue with Venezuela on any other issue.
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 its sham referendum, asking its citizens to vote on the annexation of Essequibo, before the Court can rule.
Maduro 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.