Outgoing Ambassador credited for stronger US stance on Guyana-Venezuela border controversy

Outgoing US Ambassador Perry Holloway (left) speaking at the farewell reception hosted by the US Embassy on Friday evening. His wife Rosaura is second from left. Also in photo are Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo (third, from right), his wife Sita (second, from right) and Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge (right). (Department of Public Information photo)

Outgoing United States (US) Ambassador Perry Holloway was on Friday credited with being instrumental in helping to solidify Washington’s support for the acceptance of the 1899 arbitral award that settled the border between Guyana and Venezuela. 

Guyana has moved to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for the confirmation of the legal validity and binding effect of the 1899 award, which Venezuela has contended is null and void.

At a farewell reception for Holloway at his residence on Friday evening, Deputy Chief of Mission Terry Steers-Gonzalez highlighted the ambassador’s role in the US taking a stronger position.

“In large measure because of Ambassador Holloway, the US Government now also ‘Calls on all parties to respect the 1899 arbitration decision.’ While some might discount this seemingly simple addition, most of us present tonight understand how truly big it was and is,” Steers-Gonzalez said.

He contrasted the new position with Washington’s previous statement on the border controversy—while Holloway was awaiting confirmation by the US Senate to the post here—where it had only noted its support for “the timely resolution of the Venezuela-Guyana border controversy.”

“Ambassador Holloway actually logged this win before he even arrived here in September, 2015, while he waited in Washington for confirmation by the US Senate. Previously, we had simply ‘support [e]d the timely resolution of the Venezuela-Guyana border controversy,’” he related.

The Government of Guyana took note of Holloway’s efforts and expressed its gratitude. Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge, who is acting as Prime Minister, stressed that while the change may seem minute to some, Guyana remains very grateful.

“We are most delighted to receive that message and also receive a message through the instrumentality of Ambassador Perry Holloway,” Greenidge said.

“From where I sit, it is an extremely important statement and an extremely strong statement—one that we welcome most heartily. The fact that the US, at this point, [is] prompted to call those parties that were signatories to the Paris Agreement of 1899 is of great significance. It is of especially great significance for Guyana because all Guyana wants is the respect of a treaty that two parties signed and which for all of 63 years both parties embraced. And it is important that we remember that and that also the US plays a critical role in the treaty of Washington of 1897, which rooted or spawned the arbitration award of 1899,” he added.

Venezuela has thus far refused to participate in the ICJ proceedings.

DEA

Steers-Gonzalez also noted that it was during Holloway’s tenure that the first US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) office was officially established here.

To date, he said, the DEA has provided crucial support to Guyana’s Customs Anti-Narcotic Unit and other local law enforcement authorities.

Holloway was also credited with helping to deliver about US$2.5 million in training and equipment through the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Unit to law enforcement here.

He also supported the launch of the American Chamber of Commerce Guyana and the Guyana Overseas Security Advisory Council. “These new organisations buttress Guyana’s private sector and a growing number of American companies as well,” the Deputy Chief of Mission said.

During Holloway’s mission, the Consular Section of the US Embassy has issued over 18,000 immigrant visas and about 86,133 non-immigrant visas, which Steers-Gonzalez said “is over half of all the non-immigrant visas issued by this embassy so far [in] this 21st century.”

And through the US Peace Corps’ humanitarian programme, which helps to improve living standards and provide training here, the Ambassador and his wife, Rosaura, welcomed 73 Peace Corps volunteers to Guyana during his tenure and he even oversaw the mission’s establishment of its first environmental programme in Guyana. Both Holloway and his wife, according to Steers-Gonzalez, would visit the volunteers across the country, even in the hinterlands.

Come together

When Holloway concludes his mission here, he will retire from diplomatic work after more than 30 years of service.

He said that he and his family will be moving back to the US, where he will be going to work for a private company based in Miami, Florida. “And no, it is not ExxonMobil,” he joked.

The US envoy advises Guyanese to remain vigilant and use the resources which the country will accrue from oil and gas, estimated to be about 300 times its current Gross Domestic Product. “This is gigantic. You will be the richest country in the hemisphere and could be the richest in the world on a per capita basis,” he said.

“I certainly hope that Guyana figures out a way going forward and that everyone could work together for at least some issues,” Holloway further said as he pointed to education, poverty and prison reform as some of them. “I don’t care what your ethnicity or political party is, at least you can come together and work together on something for the good of Guyana because it is important,” he added.  

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