Brazil talks: Guyana & Venezuela agree to continue engagements on shared issues


A month after Guyana’s President Dr. Irfaan Ali and his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolas Maduro met in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the foreign ministers of both countries met in Brazil on Thursday to set up another round of talks between the two Presidents.

Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hugh Todd, his Venezuelan counterpart, Yván Gil and the Brazilian Foreign Affairs Minister Mauro Vieira all met in Brasilia for a discussion premised on maintaining peace and stability in the region.

Following the end of the talks, both sides agreed to continue such engagements, particularly on common issues like crime and climate change, and the two Presidents will meet soon.

Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hugh Todd speaking at a press briefing following the engagement in Brazil (Photo: Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs/ January 25, 2024)

“For Guyana and Venezuela, there is continuity in our efforts and that is why I have asked my dear colleague and friend (Minister Gil) for us to start working on the next meeting on building on what we have already started,” Minister Todd said at a press briefing in Brasilia.

Tackling transnational organised crime, boosting economic cooperation, pursuing solutions for climate change and Venezuela’s migrant crisis are shared areas Minister Todd the two countries can tackle together.

“We’re going back to headquarters Georgetown to continue working on advancing neighbourly relations to the west with support from our neighbour to the south, Brazil,” Minister Todd added.

Notably, Minister Todd clarified that the two countries are seeking to advance cooperation although the Guyana/ Venezuela border controversy is squarely before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). He reaffirmed that the border, and Guyana’s case before the ICJ, was not and is not up for discussion.

Parties at the engagement in Brazil (Photo: Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs/ January 25, 2024)

“We are cognisant of the fact that we have a matter that is unresolved but is properly before the ICJ,” he said, later adding, “… even though the court will pronounce, we still have to work together.”

Why this meeting?

Venezuela held a December 3 referendum that many feared would be used to greenlight a potential seizure of two-thirds of Guyana’s territory- the entire Essequibo region- that the Spanish-speaking nation has claimed for decades.

Subsequently, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro issued a redrawn Venezuelan map that includes Guyana’s territory, told investors to leave and planned activities in the Essequibo region.

Amid rising tensions, several regional bodies and states stepped in and a meeting between Guyana’s President Dr. Irfaan Ali and Mr. Maduro was brokered in December in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Presidents Dr Irfaan Ali and Nicolas Maduro during their talks in St Vincent (Photo: Office of the President)

Following their meeting, there was an 11-point declaration which includes a commitment from both sides to “refrain, whether by words or deeds, from escalating any conflict.” That declaration catered for a subsequent meeting of the Heads of Government in Brazil; technical meetings, like Thursday’s meeting between Todd and Gil, were necessary too.

Guyana has maintained that the territory is its own after an 1899 Arbitral Award determined the boundary between the two countries as is internationally-recognised. Because of Venezuelan aggressions and decades of failed talks, Guyana eventually took the border controversy to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) where the case is ongoing. Guyana hopes for a final, binding judgement that affirms that the Essequibo is its own.

1 Comment
  1. Stephen Monohar Kangal says

    This meeting planned to be held in Brasilia must be carefully crafted/arranged to accommodate the legitimate wishes of the Government of Guyana and not provide a platform for Maduro to commandeer the agenda and introduce matters related to the issue now before the ICJ.
    This meeting will keep the bilateral lines of communication open and reduce the tension between the countries.
    Guyana has to make certain conditionalities as a basis for the meeting that are:
    1.Venezuela must not encroach on interfering in matters that are clearly within the ambit of the internal/domestic affairs of the sovereign state of Guyana and its rights enshrined in the UN/OAS Charters;
    2. Venezuela must undo all its decisions in respect of its virtual illegal annexation of The Essequibo and the consequent establishment of certain administrative measures including its threat to certain companies that are clearly and legally operating in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Guyana;
    3. Guyana has the sovereign right to pursue internal security arrangements/alliances/ right to strengthen its self defense capabilities (Article 51 of the UN Charter) without sabre-rattling coming from Venezuela including defensive military exercises conducted with its allies and partners since the Argyle Declaration never precluded Guyana from so doing.
    4. Venezuela must give an undertaking to respect the 1 December ICJ Judgment as a means of the preservation of the legal status quo and the Zone of Peace Concept.
    5.Guyana will not be hustled into participating in the next Brasilia meeting as it was in respect of its participation in St Vincent meeting without a clear indication that its interest will be met and not those of the interlocutors.
    6. The agreed Provisional agenda when agreed by the respective Foreign Ministers must be strictly adhered to without any compromises on the status of the ICJ that is seized of the territorial controversy.
    7. PM Gonzales as interlocutor-in- Chief must issue a formal letter to the Government of Venezuela stating that a wreath in 2022 bearing a map of Venezuela that included The Essequibo was used without his prior knowledge/approval and does not represent the position of the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines on the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy as a precondition to his continuing in his role as an independent interlocutor.
    8. The Brasilia meeting must decide/clarify whether the visits of the British Under Secretary of State, Mr David Rutley and that of the HMS Trent to Guyana warranted the level of response from Foreign Minister Yvan Gil of Venezuela and the amassing of the ultra-high Venezuelan military and maritime forces on the Eastern Caribbean Coast respectively. This can be added to the agenda item: List of events occurring post -Argyle and their connexion to the Declaration.
    Guyana must be convinced that the participation of its President Ali in the Second Brasilia meeting will be beneficial to Guyana’s interests and not because it wants to please Gonzales and Lula the latter of whom opted out of the St Vincent meeting at the last minute.

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