By Gordon Moseley
In an early morning address to the nation from Essequibo, President Irfaan Ali this morning called on neighbouring Venezuela to show maturity and responsibility.
President Ali’s Sunday morning statement was made as Venezuelans prepared to head to the polls in their homeland to vote on a referendum that the Venezuelan government hopes will strengthen its claims of Guyana’s Essequibo region.
Venezuela has opted to go ahead with the referendum despite condemnation from the international community.
“I am not going to get into the internal politics of Venezuela, and into their policy making. But I want to advise Venezuela that this is an opportunity for them to show maturity, an opportunity for them to show responsibility, and we call on them once more to join us to join us, to join us in demonstrating maturity and responsibility and to allow the rule of law to work and to determine the outcome of this controversy”, President Ali said.
In the past few days, tension has been growing in the communities near to Guyana/Venezuela border, with many residents expressing fear that Venezuela might ignore all of the international warnings and attempt to invade parts of the Essequibo. The Guyana Government has assured that the situation is being closely monitored by Guyana and many of its international allies and citizens should remain calm, and not fall victims to rumour mongering or Venezuelan propaganda.
On Friday, the International Court of Justice in granting provisional measures in Guyana’s case against Venezuela for a final settlement of the controversy, ordered Venezuela to refrain from taking any action which would modify the situation that currently prevails in the Essequibo, whereby Guyana administers and exercises control over that area.
The International Court also ordered both Guyana and Venezuela to refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the Court.
In 2018, Guyana moved to the International Court seeking a final settlement of the controversy that has been dogging the country for decades.
In its Application to the Court, Guyana highlighted that for more than 60 years, Venezuela had consistently recognized and respected the validity and binding force of the 1899 Arbitral Award which set the land boundary between Venezuela and the then British Guiana, and the 1905 Map agreed by both sides in furtherance of the Award. The Application noted that Venezuela changed its position in 1962 as the United Kingdom was preparing to grant independence to Guyana.
Guyana gained independence in 1966 and has been dogged by the Venezuela claims since then.
With the flag of Guyana as his backdrop, President Ali also spoke directly to the people of Venezuela ahead of their vote in the referendum. The President reminded them that Guyana remains Venezuela’s neighbours and neighbours should live in peace and unity.
He said “I want to speak directly to the Venezuelan people. We are your neighbours,and we are taught to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. And long after this controversy, we will live together as neighbours. You have to determine within yourselves whether you want to be part of a system that runs afoul of international law, that runs afoul based on all the feedback internationally”.
And speaking to citizens of Guyana, President Irfaan Ali said there is nothing to fear. He said Guyana’s vigilance will be enhanced and Guyana will continue to work around the clock to ensure that the borders remain intact and that the people of Guyana remain safe.
“I am proud of the way, Guyanese, and every one of us, have handled this challenge”, President Ali said.
The President said he is proud of the level of patriotism and together he continues to see from Guyanese across the country, noting that it is something that the country must take forward in enhancing a more united Guyana.
The President returned early on Saturday from the COP28 Climate Change Conference in Dubai, ahead of the Venezuela Referendum vote.
During the international climate conference, President Ali met and held talks with a number of World Leaders, briefing them on the current situation with Venezuela, and its acts of aggression against Guyana.
He offered thanks to those who have offered their full support of Guyana and the judicial process, and urged the more quiet ones to speak up against Venezuela’s continued aggression against Guyana.
On Friday, just after the ICJ ruling, President Ali said “the solidarity of the international community with Guyana has been invaluable. We appeal to our sister countries of CARICOM and the broader international community to continue supporting the principles of justice and international law in relation to the controversy over Guyana’s border with Venezuela. Our collective voice can serve as a beacon for the respect of the United Nations Charter, the rule of law and the peaceful settlement of disputes.”
Today, across Guyana, citizens are being urged to join hands in creating circles of love, and to continue showing their love for home and country.