The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has rejected the move by Venezuela to hold a referendum later this year, seeking approval from its citizens to make Guyana’s Essequibo region a new Venezuelan state.
In a statement on the ongoing border controversy, CARICOM today said it has taken note of two of the questions approved to be posed in the Referendum. CARICOM said if the questions are answered in the affirmative, it would authorise the Venezuelan government to embark on the annexation of parts of Guyana’s territory.
CARICOM made it clear that international law strictly prohibits the government of one State from unilaterally seizing, annexing or incorporating the territory of another state and noted that the referendum will open the door to the possible violation of this fundamental tenet of international law.
“CARICOM earnestly hopes that Venezuela is not raising the prospect of using force or military means to get its own way in this controversy over territory. After all, it has been the long-standing position of Latin American and Caribbean counties, including Venezuela, that our region must remain a zone of peace,” CARICOM said in a statement this afternoon.
The regional body pointed out that the land and water in question — the Essequibo Region of Guyana — comprises more than two-thirds of the whole of Guyana itself.
CARICOM said it has also noted the language of two questions approved to be posed in the Referendum seeks an affirmation and implementation of Venezuela’s stance on the issue “by all means, according to/with the Law.”
CARICOM said it is open to reasonable persons to conclude that “by all means”, includes use of force or war.
“CARICOM reiterates its support for the judicial process and expresses the hope that Venezuela will engage fully in that process before the International Court of Justice which has determined that it has the jurisdiction in the case brought before it to determine the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award which Venezuela questions. The Court’s final decision will ensure a resolution that is peaceful, equitable and in accordance with international law.,” CARICOM noted.
CARICOM insists that the Referendum proposed by Venezuela has no validity, bearing, or standing in international law in relation to this controversy noting that the Referendum is a purely domestic construct, and its effect is likely to undermine peace and stability in the region.
The Government of Guyana with support of the Opposition, has been alerting the international community to the recent threats to Guyana’s territorial integrity by the neighbouring Venezuela.