Hosting the 17th Summit of the Heads of state and government of the Non-Aligned Movement last week, Venezuela got an earful on its territorial claim to Guyana which has seen increasingly tense relations between the two countries over the last 15 months.
Delivering the salvo on Sunday was Guyana’s Ambassador to Venezuela, Marilyn Miles who described Caracas’ claim to more than two-thirds of the country as a “potential threat to our peace and security”.
The text of Miles’ presentation was released yesterday by the Office of the Prime Minister, a day after President David Granger had delivered a stinging rebuke to Venezuela over its claim to Guyana’s territory at the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
In the presence of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Miles noted that respect for territorial integrity is one of the sacred principles of the Movement.
“As delegations are aware, more than two thirds of my country is subject to a claim by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. This represents a potential threat to our peace and security. However Mr Chairman, Guyana is convinced that co-operation, friendship and mutual respect are underlying principles for the maintenance of peace and stability and for the success of integration movements in the Latin American and Caribbean Region, as in the wider world. Therefore, I wish to use this opportunity to reaffirm that Guyana is committed to the search for a peaceful solution to the controversy with Venezuela”, Miles stated.
She then traced what had transpired with the controversy since the Movement last met in Iran which she said she wished to draw to the attention of “our Non Aligned family”.
She noted that in September of 2014, the Government of Guyana notified the United Nations Secretary General that Guyana did not wish to continue with the Good Offices process which had been ongoing for twenty-five years. She pointed out that the Secretary General is “currently considering the exercise of his mandate under the Geneva Agreement of 1966 with a view to finally resolving the controversy. Guyana continues to fully cooperate with the Secretary General in the exercise of his mandate”.
In his address in New York, Granger accused Venezuela of thwarting all attempts by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to bring finality to the matter. Guyana has been insisting on a juridical conclusion while Venezuela wants a continuation of the Good Offices process.
Miles added: “Mr. Chairman, Guyana is a founding Member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) which is headquartered in Georgetown, our Capital city. The Heads of Government of CARICOM at their 37th Regular Meeting held in July of this year, signalled (and I quote) `their full confidence in the Secretary General to exercise urgently his authority under the 1966 Geneva Agreement for a choice of option that would bring the controversy to a definitive and judicial conclusion that would be beneficial not only to Guyana but the Caribbean Community as a whole.’”
She concluded her statement on the controversy which has dogged Guyana since its independence 50 years ago by stating “Chairman, Guyanese are peace-loving people and our sister Republic of Venezuela likewise advocates a diplomacy of peace as is evident in the theme of this Summit. This is the basis on which we have built and which we hope to continue to build, good neighbourly relations with Venezuela in the true spirit of Non Aligned unity and mutual respect”.
Miles’ statement at the NAM summit and the President’s address at the UN General Assembly are the latest efforts in an intense diplomatic campaign by the APNU+AFC government to pressure Caracas on its heightened claim following the discovery of oil offshore of Guyana last year.
The NAM summit didn’t deliver the boost that strife-torn Venezuela was hoping for as very few leaders attended.