Advisor on Borders, Carl Greenidge, is of the firm conviction that Guyana would be most reckless to agree to the arrangement of “prey and predator” which was recently proffered by Venezuela’s Head of State, Nicolas Maduro. On January 7, last, Maduro had announced that he would be writing to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, to lead negotiations between Guyana and Venezuela as an alternative solution to the ongoing litigation at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The national advisor alluded that such a proposition is naive while adding that Guyana should not be distracted.
During an interview with Guyana Standard today, Greenidge said such statements, including Maduro’s comment to “re-conquer” the Essequibo region, demonstrate vividly why Guyana needed to go to the World Court for a definitive resolution of the controversy. He reminded that the controversy was spawned by Venezuela’s contention that the 1899 Paris Arbitral Award, which established Guyana’s current border with the Spanish-speaking territory, is null and void.
The Agent of Guyana’s case said, “Recent events show that this issue is serving as the proverbial straw to which the Venezuelan leaders clutch and which they do not intend to let go in the face of intractable and deep political, economic and social crises. It is a means of diverting attention from those crises.”
Greenidge said that time after time, Venezuela has been unable to make its case in processes involving third parties even when, as in 1899, it had a major power house- the USA, on its side. The official said when an outcome does not suit Venezuela it is prepared to eschew and decry the process and claim unfairness. Greenidge said this is why they do not now want a third party involved.
Further to this, the Agent added, “What kind of case can a country have which can only be made and won in bilateral talks? In terms of power and influence, placing Guyana and Venezuela together in a negotiation without a third party would be an odd arrangement indeed. David and Goliath is the stuff of myth and salutary aphorisms not of prudent diplomacy or sensitive negotiations.”
Greenidge was also keen to note that negotiations are not about morals but about power, as such, he argued that Guyana would be most reckless to agree to any such arrangement of prey and predator.
“In the words of Isaiah (11:6) ‘The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;’ However, he closes with words, ‘…. and a little child shall lead them.”
On this premise, Greenidge argued that Venezuela’s proposal for bilateral discussions is missing the ‘child’ to do the ‘leading’.
The Agent said that Guyana has the experience of how Venezuela exercises its power and its attitude to the sanctity of agreements voluntarily entered into. He posited that all the processes to which they gave their approval were abandoned whenever the outcome did not suit Venezuela. He went on to note that Venezuela’s treatment of Guyana is no exception. In this regard, Greenidge commented that there is the case of their agreements with Colombia to the west.
If after 60 years of talking, that a Joint Commission, a moratorium, the Good Offices process and Enhanced Mediation, Guyana and Venezuela have not been able to resolve this matter, Greenidge said one ought to question what chance is there that another five or 50 years of talking will resolve it.
Greenidge said the task ahead for Guyana is that it continues to dispel the misinformation being peddled by Venezuela and carry through with seeking redress at the ICJ. He said it is the only option.