Even though the President of Venezuela, Nicholas Maduro, has made spurious claims in the past over Guyana’s territorial waters, his latest decree can only be seen as “international banditry” says former House Speaker and Leader of A New and United Guyana (ANUG), Ralph Ramkarran.
In his most recent writings, Ramkarran reminded that Maduro had issued Decree No. 4.415 dated January 7, 2021, creating “A Strategic Area of National Development called ‘Territory for the Development of the Atlantic Façade.’ He noted that the territory includes the Atlantic façade of the Orinoco Delta up to 200 nautical miles, but not including the maritime space of other states.
The politician was keen to note that the Guyana maritime space is not excluded because the maritime space claimed by Venezuela includes that covered by Decree No. 3.732 on December 28, 2018, and prior decrees which claim sovereignty over maritime space to which Guyana is entitled. Ramkarran said that this space in Guyana’s Atlantic “facade,” including its enormous petroleum resources, now forms part of Venezuela’s “Territory for the Development of the Atlantic Façade” and is designated as a “strategic area for national development.”
The former Speaker of the National Assembly asserted that the Decree provides for the creation of a Single Authority to manage all aspects of administration and development of the “strategic area” while adding that there will be a Board of Directors comprising representatives from seven vice presidencies, the armed forces, and ministry of foreign affairs. The Board of Directors is expected to administer the “strategic area” and manage its income, tax incentives, import facilities, and customs. Operating regulations for the Board of Directors will also be prepared and issued within 90 days.
Taking the foregoing into consideration, Ramkarran said that the Venezuelan government has, on this occasion, gone further than at any time in the past, in trampling on Guyana’s sovereignty and provocatively increasing tension while noting that it has incorporated Guyana’s maritime space, in which exploration for and extraction of petroleum products are ongoing.
The official said this “can only be viewed as international banditry and exposes Venezuela’s and Maduro’s empty claims of desiring a peaceful resolution of the controversy as so much hogwash…”
He said in conclusion that Guyana must prepare itself to expect the worse as it is clear that Venezuela’s intentions are not aligned with peace.