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Guyana seeks CARICOM support in border dispute with Venezuela

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Thursday July 2, 2015 – Guyana is seeking the support of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in its maritime border dispute with Venezuela.

Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge who is part of the Guyana delegation attending the three-day CARICOM Heads of Government summit which opens in Barbados this evening, said the matter will be formally drawn to the leaders’ attention during the meeting.

“It is for those Heads to take appropriate action, whatever the state of their current bilateral relations with Venezuela. Bilateral relations can only continue if you are a state,” he said.

Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro issued a decree on May 25, claiming sovereignty over Guyana’s territorial waters in the Essequibo region of the Atlantic Ocean, including a large part of the area where US oil giant ExxonMobil discovered oil a month ago.

Guyana has made it clear it will fight Venezuela on that claim and so far has the support of Commonwealth which has placed the matter on the agenda of its Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting set for September.

Greenidge said that, in a matter as fundamental as this, “silence is not an option”.

“If we are to remain independent, let alone as viable states, we have to stoutly and unapologetically represent our interests and pursue fairness in the international arena,” he said.

“Our analysis and those of the friendly bilaterals with which we have consulted in the last three weeks, point to the fact that the 1787 decree promulgated by Venezuela, apart from being illegal in international law, seeks to appropriate for Venezuela marine spaces and related resources which currently constitute and are accepted as part of the EEZ [Exclusive Economic Zone] of every state in the Eastern Caribbean ranging from St Kitts and Nevis to Grenada as well as Suriname.”

Responding to a recent report that a Venezuela government spokesman claimed there was nothing about Maduro’s decree to be concerned, Greenidge insisted that “a law calling on a Navy to enforce a security zone and to exclude other states from it is no laughing matter, neither can it be an error if, after six weeks, it is still in force”.

“No subsequent amendment has ameliorated to any degree the coercion behind the decree. As of today, it still requires the Venezuelan forces to exclude us, as a matter of duty and an obligation, from those areas internationally recognized as ours,” the minister said.

President David Granger added that while his government remains committed to improving relations with Venezuela, it remains resolute in its stand against the “several illegal and increasingly militant actions of Venezuela directed against Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

“Guyana reasserts that its lawful boundaries that were established 116 years ago are not negotiable. Violation of them on land or at sea is an assault on the tenets of CARICOM and must be condemned as such,” he said in a statement issued yesterday, just before his departure for the Barbados meeting.

Granger said that is the message he intends to take to the CARICOM leaders.

Courtesy: Caribbean 360

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