In the wake of reports that Russia wants to deploy military aircraft at a Venezuelan airbase in the Caribbean Sea, Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge says Guyana is concerned.
“When I read the reports of (military) bases and other development taking place (in Venezuela), we are inevitably very concerned. We will be responding within that context, that this is not a place where we would welcome these types of struggles that threaten the quality and the lives of the occupants of this region,” he said.
Citing a Russian newspaper, Reuters reported recently that Russia wants to deploy strategic aircraft to a military airfield on the island of La Orchila off the coast of Venezuela. Venezuela’s laws do not allow it to host foreign military bases, but it can temporarily host foreign military planes, the newspaper wrote. It said Caracas had offered to host Russian planes there in the past and that Moscow had not taken up the offer, but that it had had a change of heart in light of the U.S. plan to exit a Cold War-era nuclear arms treaty with Russia.
Asked about his views on this as well as on the recent deployment of two Russian bombers, capable of carrying nuclear weapons, to Venezuela and which have since returned to Russia, Greenidge said, “We in this region have no interest in reliving the Cold War era.”
He said that one of President David Granger’s favourite comments when looking at the Caribbean, is to say that it used to be “the cockpit of the world” in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries and in many ways, it had continued into the 20th century. In the current period, Greenidge said, the countries of the region have embraced an ideology that says this region will no longer serve that function.
“If the rest of the world is having problems, if the superpowers are unable to speak to each other, then we should not be part willingly or unwillingly, and especially not unwillingly, of any arrangements by which powers fight each other by proxy or directly,” he said.
Most of the countries in the region, the Minister said, are members of treaties that reflect that sentiment. He pointed out that Guyana is a party to the 1968 Treaty of Tlatelolco which prohibits nuclear weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Granger is fond of making reference to the fact that leaders of the Latin America and the Caribbean want the hemisphere to be a zone of peace.
“We have gone through a lot of trials in the past. We, here in Guyana, Central America and even North America are products of a struggle between the international powers. It is not something that we want to relive,” Greenidge emphasised.