Former Executive Member of the People’s National Congress Reform, Dr. Richard Van West Charles is to be appointed as Guyana’s new Ambassador to Venezuela, according to senior Government officials.
Dr. Van West Charles, who is married to the daughter of late Guyanese President Forbes Burnham, was offered the job directly by President Irfaan Ali and accepted.
News Source understands that Guyana has since dispatched letters to Caracas informing the Venezuelan government of the appointment, and is now awaiting approval and the eventual acceptance of credentials.
The appointment is coming at a time when relations between Guyana and Venezuela have been growing tense, following recent threats by Venezuela over Guyana’s auctioning of oil blocks offshore Guyana.
Venezuela has objected to the auctioning of the blocks claiming that it should be involved as it still claims Guyana’s Essequibo region.
President Irfaan Ali recently raised the issue regarding Venezuela’s continued threats and intimidation at the General Assembly meeting of the United Nations.
During his address to the General Assembly, President Ali said recent statements and objections from the Venezuelan government are a threat to regional and international peace and security, as well as to Guyana’s investment partners.
“We demand that Venezuela honours its obligation under the charter to pursue only peaceful means to settle any disputes it may have with Guyana, including adjudication before the International Court of Justice”, the President told the United Nations.
The international community has also been rallying behind Guyana, with the Commonwealth, the Organisation of American States, CARICOM and the United States Government, all issuing strong statements in support of Guyana, and condemning Venezuela over its threats and intimidation tactics.
The opposition in Guyana has also pledged its full support of the Guyana Government and has also slammed the Venezuelan government over its latest statements and threats claiming Guyana’s territory.
The recent incidents over the past week may have triggered the Government’s move to urgently appoint an Ambassador to Venezuela.
Dr. Richard Van West Charles is well known in the local political circle, having served under a previous People’s National Congress administration as a Minister of Health. Under the last APNU+AFC administration, he was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Water Incorporated. However, he was fired from the position less than a week after the Government changed in August 2020 and President Ali was sworn in as President.
Van West Charles made a failed bid to become leader of the People’s National Congress in 2021 during that party’s leadership race. He was left in the third position in a three-man race for leadership. He was later appointed as the Political Advisor to the PNC Leader, Aubrey Norton.
That relationship soured last year as Dr. Van West Charles walked away from the position, with Norton claiming that he appeared to have had a hidden agenda as he regularly pushed for dialogue between the governing PPP and the opposition PNC, which is the largest party in the opposition coalition.
Since then, Dr. Van West Charles has been spotted with the President at a number of public events in and out of Guyana.
In August, at a State House reception to celebrate Emancipation, the former PNC Executive Member, embraced the President’s leadership and his One Guyana policy, as the two danced on stage to African drums.
Before returning to Guyana in 2009, Dr. Richard Van West Charles worked at the Pan American Health Organisation and the World Health Organisation.