Guyana seeks closer defence ties with Brazil

-Granger cites ‘situation’ on north coast of South America

President David Granger confers Brazil’s Minister of Defence Raul Jungmann with the insignia of the National Award, the Cacique Crown of Honour (CCH), as acting Chancellor Yonette Cummings-Edwards looks on at State House yesterday. Jungmann is heading a delegation currently in Guyana on an official visit. (Photo by Keno George)

President David Granger yesterday told visiting Brazilian Defence Minister Raul Jungmann that Guyana wants closer defence cooperation with Brasilia in light of what he said was the “present situation in the northern coast of South America.”

According to a statement from the Ministry of the Presidency, Granger said at a meeting at the Baridi Benab, State House, that Guyana wanted to review the Joint Communiqué of 2012 on defence.

“We would like to review the Joint Communiqué to determine its applicability to present-day circumstances. That agreement contained seven points, which are being implemented but in light of the present situation in the northern coast of South America we would like to review that agreement… to put greater emphasis on surveillance and our involvement in the Amazon Surveillance System,” President Granger said.

Granger did not elaborate on what matter on the northern coast of South America he was referring to but it appeared to be a reference to Venezuela, where ongoing political instability has seen Venezuelans fleeing in large numbers to Brazil and Colombia. This situation has led to Brasilia and Bogota stepping up military operations on their borders with Venezuela in recent days and expressing deep concern about the situation there. Guyana has also seen an increased influx of Venezuelans seeking medical services in the North West District and Cuyuni-Mazaruni.

Jungmann, who was invested with the Cacique Crown of Honour at the State House event, said in reply that Brazil is ready to revisit the terms and provisions of the Communiqué to work out how the two countries can cooperate in the areas of defence outlined by the President.

President David Granger speaking with Brazilian Defence Minister Raul Jungmann as acting Chancellor Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards looks on. (Photo by Keno George)

“We are willing to review the Communiqué. We will do this through our Military Attaché… who will then refer it to the higher authorities,” he said, according to the Ministry of the Presidency.

Jungmann told the President that countries in the hemisphere have to work more closely together to tackle problems like drug-trafficking and other transnational crimes.

“As Minister of Defence, we have responsibility for the army, the marine and the air force, so whatever we can do to assist Guyana, let us know,” the Minister told the President.

The statement said that Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge updated the Brazilian delegation which included the Minister of Justice Torquato Lorena Jardim on the recent developments of the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy, which he described as being at the heart of Guyana’s national security.

Granger also expressed Guyana’s gratitude to Brazil for its support for Georgetown in the border controversy with Venezuela.

“Brazil, for 50 years, has been a guarantor of our territory and has maintained that it is not interested in in any changes to settled boundaries,” the President said.

Jungmann said that Brazil wants to see the controversy with Venezuela resolved permanently and in a diplomatic manner, which can be achieved at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). This, he said, is vital for the stability of the South American continent.

Granger, moments after conferring Jungmann with the insignia, said that it recognises not only the Minister’s personal diligence but his nation’s demonstrated commitment to the preservation of South America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace, to respect for international law and inviolability of treaties, international peacekeeping, humanitarian and disaster relief and the consolidation of defence cooperation between Brazil and Guyana.

Noting that one can choose their friends but not their neighbours, Granger said that “Guyana is proud to have a neighbour such as Brazil, which is also a friend.”

According to Granger, the friendship between Guyana and Brazil was founded on “international principles of mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, cooperation for mutual benefit, respect for treaties, the inviolability of borders, respect for international law and the maintenance of international peace and security.”

The President said Guyana looks forward to the intensification of defence cooperation with Brazil, which is essential to preventing transnational crimes such as trafficking in persons, trafficking in illegal narcotics, trafficking in illegal weapons, transnational terrorism and the spread of contagious diseases.

Also present at the event were Chairman of the Advisory Council of the Orders of Guyana, acting Chancellor Yonette Cummings-Edwards, several ministers of the government, senior officers of the Guyana Defence Force and ranks from the Brazilian military.

The 2012 Joint Communiqué between the two countries contained important commitments but it is unclear what progress was made over the years.

Among its decisions were to promote the coordination of military operations in their respective border areas to ensure more effective results and to enhance the integration and stability of the respective communities.

The two sides also agreed to intensify collaboration in the area of defence procurement through the exchange of information and expertise.

Commencement of co-operation in the area of geo technology applied to defence and security, through the training of officials from Guyana at the SIVAM (Brazilian Amazon Surveillance Integrated System) facility in Manaus, Brazil was also floated.

The Joint Communiqué was concluded during the visit here of the then Defence Minister Celso Amorim.

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