President Ali calls out Bolivia’s President over inaccurate statements on border controversy


By Fareeza Haniff in St Vincent and the Grenadines

In a definitive statement committing to peace in Latin America and the Caribbean, President Irfaan Ali Friday said Guyana will never be a platform of or for war and had cause to call out his Bolivian counterpart for inaccurate statements made during the VIII Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), being hosted in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

During the plenary session of the summit at the Sandals Resort, the President of Bolivia Luis Arce accused Guyana of allowing the United Kingdom and the United States to conduct military air and sea exercises shortly after Guyana and Venezuela signed a peace pact known as the Argle Declaration, following rising tensions between the two nations.

But President Ali, in his response, urged his Bolivian colleague to edify himself with the facts, noting that the British vessel that graced Guyana’s waters last December was part of bilateral and regional security cooperation.

“Instead of drawing conclusions, States within the region must ascertain the facts. Statements that are not based on facts can only add to destablisation.

“As we heard this morning from our friends in Bolivia, the air surveillance and sea exercise mentioned by Bolivia were part of a bilateral and regional security cooperation and had nothing to do with the Guyana and Venezuela controversy.

“It is also important to note that no mention was made about the incursions into Guyana’s territorial space,” President Ali emphasized in a room full of LAC Presidents and Prime Ministers, including the President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro.

The Head of State reiterated Guyana’s commitment to maintaining peace and stability in the region, highlighting that Guyana’s territory will never be a platform for war.

“My commitment to this august body is that Guyana and everything we do is built on peace and our fundamental values are based on peace. We are a peaceful people.

“I assure all leaders here that Guyana’s priority is peace and you can have the confidence that our territory will never be a platform of war or for war,” President Ali said.

It was in St Vincent last December when Venezuela backed away from its threat of using force to annex the Essequibo region, and Guyana agreed, though never using force, to reciprocate.

The meeting between Presidents Ali and Maduro was hosted by St Vincent’s Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and was attended by several leaders of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

And according to President Ali, he assured everyone then that he was prepared to speak with President Maduro on any aspect that may contribute to enhancing the relationship between the two countries.

“The aspect relating to Venezuela’s claim to the Essequibo is before the International Court of Justice and the Joint Declaration of Argyle on Dialogue and Peace acknowledges that Guyana is committed to the process and procedures of the International Court of Justice for the resolution of the border controversy.

“We are prepared to accept the judgement of the Court on this matter. I can assure you that Guyana remains steadfast in its commitment to the international judicial process as well as to maintaining our region as a ‘zone of peace. We want peace. We want prosperity for our neighbours and all in this region.

“We want to be our brother’s keeper with our neighbour,” President Ali said.

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