Leader of the Opposition, Aubrey Norton has described Venezuela as “a regional bully” for its ongoing aggression towards Guyana and its planned referendum on Guyana’s Essequibo region.
On Monday evening, the National Assembly passed a Resolution denouncing as provocative and unlawful, the December 3 Referendum planned by Venezuela.
“The 1899 Arbitral Award was the basis of the tri-junction point which fixed the boundaries for Guyana, Venezuela, and Brazil. In this exercise, Caracas lost territory to Brazil but has never once contested the legitimacy of the Award with Brasilia. Yet it has done so with the smaller state of Guyana. It reminds one of the Melina dialogues in the 5th century, where the great Historian Tucydiddes, made the Greeks say during the Peloponnesian war, tell the lowly Melians that the powerful have the right to rule the weaker state. But our Western neighbor is mistaken in the belief that Guyana will succumb to its bullyism and its attempt to take over our land and its riches. We will never,” the Opposition Leader said.
He said now more than ever, Venezuela’s claims to the Essequibo, coupled with increasing acts of aggression, is a threat to the region’s peace.
“This refusal to honour agreements islikely to pose a serious threat to the peace and stability of the Latin American and Caribbean region,” he said.
The Opposition Leader said it is clear that Venezuela has no regard for international agreements, and Guyana must be vigilant.
“I have therefore examined Venezuela’s behavior over the decades and I have come to the conclusion that its flouting of international norms and mores is a mechanism to facilitate its geo-political ambitions. That Caracas has strategic ambitions in the Caribbean is beyond dispute. As early as 1955 it had proposed that certain Caribbean sates should be handed over to it. And in the Mixed Commission created by the 1966 Geneva Agreement, Venezuela proposed the Joint Development of the Essequibo. Is our population aware of this and its significance? Are some of our politicians aware of this? We cannot concede an inch to Venezuela. We must see Venezuela as an adversary that wants our territory. We must remember that Venezuela always comes up with some scheme to get our territory. We have to be ever vigilant,” the Opposition Leader said.
Norton told the National Assembly that Guyana must remain united and see the controversy through the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to its logical conclusion, and reject the planned referendum.
“This is a dangerous moment in our history. We must be united in the face of this new phase of its aggression. I do not think this will be an aggression as in the past. President Maduro is in the coils of sharp economic problems which have led to the exodus of thousands of his citizens, the precipitous decline of his economy and the unpopularity of his government. This Referendum and the mobilising of troops on our border by the Maduro administration is an attempt to regain popularity and appease a volatile people, and end the apparent erosion among his political bases. This is a dangerous game. What happens if Maduro gets the “Yes” vote which he and his top officials are campaigning for? What does he do before or after he wins the elections next year? He might decide to take direct military action using a potential fifth column in our midst. Whatever happens in this neighboring state we must be prepared,” the Opposition Leader said.
With the controversy regarding the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award already before the ICJ, Guyana has approached the Court, requesting a number of provisional measures to block questions in the Venezuelan referendum that are related to Guyana’s Essequibo region.
The Motion denouncing Venezuela’s referendum to annex and integrate the Essequibo region into its territory, and affirm Guyana’s position that Essequibo belongs to Guyana and not Venezuela, was unanimously passed in the National Assembly.