Guyana will not pause its development despite Maduro’s threats

- VP Jagdeo says diplomacy, defence efforts effective


Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday again sought to reassure Guyanese that the government is doing all it can at the diplomatic and defence levels to protect investments made in the Essequibo region, whether it is on land or in the adjoining oil-rich maritime space.

His comments came days after Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro announced moves to set up a temporary government for Guyana’s Essequibo while ordering mining and oil companies in the area, governed by Guyana for well over 100 years, to leave within three months.

The Venezuelan President says he plans to start granting concessions for oil, gas, and minerals in Guyana’s territory following his sham referendum on December 3 which essentially seeks to bolster his ambitions to annex two-thirds of Guyana.

“No one is leaving and they should ignore him,” Jagdeo told a news conference from the Office of the President in Georgetown.

The VP posited that should Guyana pause any aspect of its development plan over these threats from the Venezuelan Government, it would be a success for Maduro.

“He has no right in international law to tell people how to pursue their affairs… that is why we are forging ahead with the development in all 83, 000 square miles in Guyana,” Jagdeo said.

He said the Guyana Government is deep in budget preparation for the start of the new fiscal year and noted that all together, the country is in enhanced operation mode.

Notwithstanding, a group at the highest level was set up to deal with the developments surrounding the border controversy.

“If we get paralyzed by this as a government, then we will fall prey to what he is trying to achieve…we are not taking our attention off of what we are elected to do in this country,” Jagdeo added while repeatedly noting that Maduro was both untrustworthy and unpredictable.

He said Guyana is prepared for any eventuality but noted that these will not be publicized unless necessary.

“We are not going to conduct diplomacy like that, in the open… it is often more effective when done quietly, not in a public manner or in the form of a PR perspective.

“A lot of discussions are taking place at the highest level among diverse groups of people,” Jagdeo added.

He said too that similarly, defence cooperation has been bolstered but noted that Guyana will not publicise what is being done to counter any possible invasion from Venezuela.

“I assure that we are watching carefully everything that’s going on… every move Venezuela makes, particularly in the proximity of the border is tracked,” he added.

Notwithstanding, Jagdeo believes that Maduro continues to miscalculate, first by going ahead with a referendum that was poorly supported and even now with his moves to make Essequibo a new state of Venezuela.

Jagdeo said Guyana wants peace but Maduro must be seen as the real aggressor. In this regard, he said while the Government of Guyana is open to talks, these talks will not be for any bilateral settlement on the border controversy.

“We don’t trust him and we believe he has other kinds of motivations… Venezuela will not succeed and we will do everything in our capacity to ensure this.”

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.

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