The following is a statement from the Caribbean Community (Caricom) about the border controversy between Guyana and Venezuela. The territorial dispute, which dates back to an 1899 arbitration, is being heard by the International Court of Justice. The disputed area, west of the Essequibo River, is nearly two-thirds of modern-day Guayana and is rich in gold, diamonds and other natural resources. Venezuela’s claim also intersects oil and gas fields discovered by ExxonMobil.
The Caribbean Community (Caricom) is deeply disappointed and concerned at the decree and subsequent statements by Venezuela with respect to that country’s border controversy with Guyana, including intimations of the creation of a strategic area of national development called Territory for the Development of the Atlantic Façade.
The Caribbean Community is in full support of the judicial process underway at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which is intended to bring a peaceful and definitive end to the long-standing controversy between the two countries.
Caricom reiterates in the strongest possible terms its firm and unswerving support for the maintenance and preservation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Guyana. Caricom firmly repudiates any acts of aggression by Venezuela against Guyana.
These statements are all well and good. However, in treading a diplomatic line between maintaining working relations with Venezuela and supporting our Caricom neighbour, what actual steps are being implemented to protect Guyana from these continuing threats? How do we know whether Venezuela will abide by the ruling of the International Court of Justice? Its decrees to date do not evince or demonstrate that it will pay heed to the legal processes underway. Caricom needs to reach out to the international community and also to deal directly with Venezuela to back off.