Even though several nations such as Canada and the United States of America (USA) have issued statements condemning Venezuela’s heightened aggression against Guyana, citizens should not equate this to mean that troops and boats would be sent overnight to fight for the nation’s cause. That’s not how it works in the international arena, said Guyana’s Advisor on Borders, Carl Greenidge during a press conference that was held yesterday by President, Irfaan Ali. The event was held to provide an update on the territorial controversy as well as the COVID-19 health crisis.
During the question and answer segment of the conference that was live-streamed on Facebook, one citizen called on the Head of State to say if Guyana has received any physical form of support from its international partners to ensure more Guyanese are not abducted in the same way local fishermen and their vessels were illegally detained while plying their trade in the nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Greenidge offered a response to this question. He said, “In this international area that we operate in today, the first response of allies and of those in the international community who might not even be our allies, is to use diplomatic means.”
He stressed that allies will not meet the breaches of international law with force as their first response. He said that these allies use means of diplomatic pressure while adding that those escalate as recalcitrance persists. “…So don’t expect tomorrow, necessarily, the international community will send troops and boats overnight to fix this problem,” the Advisor asserted.
The first act of heightened aggression by Venezuela came in the form of a decree issued on January 7, last, by its President, Nicholas Maduro. This was followed by the illegal detention of Guyanese fishermen and crew. Since these two incidents, President Ali reminded that the nation has received strong statements of condemnation and solidarity from its international partners.
Thus far, Guyana has received the support of the United States of America, with strong comments coming from its Acting Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Michael G. Kozak. In a most recent tweet, the official said, “The U.S. supports the ICJ’s 12/18 ruling that it has jurisdiction in the Guyana-Venezuela territorial border issue, which is the legal and peaceful way forward. Maduro’s aggressive claims don’t change this, they only show the world his disregard for his neighbours and intl. law.”
Also, Acting Assistant Secretary for the said Bureau, Julie Chung. said in a tweet as well that the US supports a peaceful resolution of the maritime boundary controversy between Venezuela and Guyana. Chung said that the USA also condemns Maduro’s intimidation through the seizure of fishing vessels and detention of crew.
Non-Resident Ambassador of the French Republic to Guyana, Antoine Joly, has also indicated that his country will put on record, its support for Guyana in the border controversy with Venezuela.
Furthermore, during a most recent meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS), Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the body, Riyad Insanally, informed the council about the recent actions of Venezuela. “It is regrettable that Venezuela has chosen to resort to the unilateral use of military force to assert its maritime claims, which Guyana regard as entirely baseless, rather than honour its commitment under the 1966 Geneva agreement to have the controversy resolved in a peaceful and binding manner,” the diplomat said. Following this, the OAS and even CARICOM, have expressed statements of condemnation of Venezuela’s heightened aggression and called for the release of the illegally detained fishermen.
Guyana’s Chief of Staff, Brigadier, Godfrey Bess, has since noted that the Guyana Defence Force is committed to defending the nation’s territory via peaceful resolution while adding that it continues to work with friendly militaries in the Caribbean and further afield such as those in Brazil and Suriname.
Bess said during the press conference yesterday that the nation’s soldiers are strategically positioned to ensure Guyana’s patrimony is protected. “I must say we have great support from retired Chiefs of Staff, soldiers and members of the Guyana People’s Militia who have been reaching out. While our military might be small, I am leading men and women who have big hearts to defend this country,” Bess concluded.