‘Highly regrettable’ – Benn condemns Venezuela’s violation of Argyle Declaration


By Isanella Patoir


Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn on Friday expressed deep concern over Venezuela’s disregard for the Argyle Declaration – an 11-point agreement which includes a commitment from both countries to refrain from escalating the decades old border controversy.

Venezuela’s Parliament on Thursday approved the creation of a new state in Guyana’s Essequibo even though the case regarding the border controversy is before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), resulting in Guyana’s rebuke.

“We deplore, we are unhappy that the Government of Venezuela and its National Assembly just yesterday agreed that they will make Essequibo formerly – no longer a zone in Reclamación (Zone in Reclamation) – but Venezuelan territory, Benn said at a high-level Regional Security System (RSS) Council of Ministers meeting being held in Georgetown.

Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn (Photo: DPI)

The move by the Venezuelan Parliament is not expected to have any immediate practical effect and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro had pledged, in meeting with President Irfaan Ali facilitated by CARICOM and observed by the United Nations and others, not to use force against Guyana.

But Benn expressed concern that “independent actors” could try to act on the development in the Venezuelan legislature.

While Maduro last month again committed to peace, exchanging pleasantries at a recent meeting in St Vincent with other leaders of Latin America and the Caribbean, the Venezuelan parliament Thursday went ahead and ratified the outcome of last December referendum.

The Guyanese government, Benn said, was “unhappy” with the latest move by Venezuelan to claim territory Guyana has owned and exercised sovereignty over since an arbitral award was handed down in 1899.

“This is highly regrettable and it is in violation of the principles of the good faith discussions which were undertaken at Argyle and more latterly in Brazil,” Minister Benn stated.

Venezuelan authorities have claimed that 10 million people voted in the referendum but the results of have not been released and news agencies reported that there were few, if any, voters at polling stations.

Minister Benn reiterated Guyana’s commitment to resolving the issue through legal means.

“We repeat that in relation to the Guyana/Venezuelan issue that it is a matter which will be resolved in the court, we of course expect that Guyana will be vindicated through that process.”

Since the eve of Guyana’s independence in 1966, Venezuela has claimed the Essequibo region. After decades of talks failed, the United Nations Secretary General referred the matter to the International Court of Justice for a full and final settlement.

Minister Benn says Guyana expects that it will be “vindicated through that process” at the court.

Minister Benn further stated that Guyana provides support to more than 30,000 registered Venezuelan migrants and “we still view Venezuelan as our cousins.”

“Guyana does not have any designs on Venezuelan territory, Guyana provides support to perhaps more than 30,000 registered Venezuelan persons in our territory.

“We still view Venezuelans as our cousins. There are thousands of Guyanese and their descendants in Venezuela itself and we look forward to their protection in their territory.”

Benn also called for rational dialogue to ensure the peaceful resolution of the dispute and to maintain the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) as a zone of peace.

Additionally, Minister Benn acknowledged and appreciated the support of regional and international partners.

“We want to applaud and rely on the support of our partners in the region and further afield, in respect of our international partners, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and all other persons and countries which have supported us in this issue, particularly Brazil,” Minister Benn said.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.