By Ravin Singh
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on Friday reaffirmed the support of the political opposition to the Government in the case to settle the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy.
Mr. Jagdeo made the announcement at the start of his contribution to the 2019 Budget debates.
He stated that the Opposition Peoples’ Progressive Party (PPP) fully supports the efforts of the Government, and that there is no uncertainty in its position.
In 2016 during the 2017 Budget debates, he had expressed similar sentiments, noting that his party would support the Government’s effort to seek a juridical settlement.
“I would like to say to the Minister of Foreign Affairs that we support all of his efforts, and that of the Government of Guyana, in ensuring that our territorial integrity is preserved, and there is no equivocation on our part, where our national patrimony is concerned” the Opposition Leader said on Friday.
He went on to state further that their position is premised on the fact that Guyana belongs to every Guyanese citizen regardless of their political affiliation. He said that for this reason, the government will continue to have the support of the opposition in its efforts.
It was just last month that Guyana filed its case with the Netherlands-based International Court of Justice (ICJ), calling for a legal and binding recognition of the 1899 Arbitral Award which established the geographic boundaries between the two South-American countries.
The Arbitral Award, which included the full participation of Venezuela, awarded Essequibo to then British Guiana. Essequibo makes up approximately two-thirds of Guyana’s geographic space.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reminded the media in a statement last month that Venezuela accepted the unanimous award, which was rendered by five eminent jurists on 3 October 1899. They said that the Spanish-speaking country even “celebrated its outcome, participated in a joint commission to demarcate the boundary on the ground, and insisted on the award’s strict implementation”.
“Only decades later did Venezuela, in anticipation of Guyana’s independence, cease recognizing the award’s validity and binding nature, using that pretext to lay claim to more than two-thirds of Guyana’s territory”, the statement read.
With Venezuela having refused to participate in the legal battle, the Government has since said that it hopes Venezuela will reconsider its position in the interest of the controversy being resolved.