As Venezuelas voted in favour of the questions asked in a national referendum on Sunday claiming Guyana’s Essequibo region, President Irfaan Ali reminded that the referendum is non-binding and the questions asked were in violation of international law.
The President addressed thousands of citizens who turned up at the National Stadium at Providence for a night of patriotic reflection.
“You are on solid rock, do not despair, do not fear, together we will ensure that at the end of this, Essequibo remains Guyana and Essequibo remains a part of who we are as Guyanese,” the President told the gathering.
The President said diplomacy is Guyana’s first line of defence and Guyana will continue to exhaust the diplomatic channels. He said Guyana also remains open to be friends with the people of Venezuela, but that friendship must be grounded in mutual understanding and respect for the rule of law.
“We are not closing any relationship with the people of Venezuela, but let me be very clear, we are not going to be trampled upon, we are not going to be caught off-guard, we will do everything within the confines of International law, we will do everything within the confines of human dignity to protect what is ours and to protect our borders and to protect Essequibo, I can assure you of this,” the President said.
The President told Guyanese that while the rhetoric from Venezuela appears to be forceful, it is a mere indication that the neighbouring country is aware that the process before the ICJ will settle the controversy. He said Venezuela’s aggression is to get Guyana to talk, but said the matter is not up for discussion.
The President also did not take kindly to utterances that he his running away from Guyana when he is most needed here.
“As long as it take, I want every Guyanese to know, regardless of the circumstances, how difficult it is, how easy it is, how burdensome of dangerous it is, you will never see me away from you, I will be with you at the front, by your side, every single moment, you can be sure of that. Do not worry about this,” the President noted.
Guyana continues to reject the referendum and Venezuela’s ongoing claims of Guyana’s territory.
Across Guyana on Sunday, citizens came out in their thousands to participate in joining hands in unity, and on Sunday night, hundreds gathered a Guyana’s national stadium for a night of patriotic reflection.