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Claims Guyana promoting xenophobia against Venezuelans “patently false”, “misleading” – VP Jagdeo – Guyana Times

…says Venezuela’s VP trying to “score political points” at ICJ

Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo has rejected statements made by his Venezuelan counterpart, Delcy Rodriguez, saying that she misled the International Court of Justice (ICJ) by claiming that Guyana tolerates the abuse of Venezuelan migrants who are seeking refuge here.
During her presentation before the World Court on Wednesday, Vice President Rodriguez alleged that Guyana is targeting the Venezuelan migrants living here in violation of international human rights and promoting xenophobia against migrants from the Spanish-speaking nation who have escaped harsh social and economic conditions in their country and are seeking betterment here.
At a press conference on Thursday, the Guyanese Vice President denounced these claims outright, and stated that the Venezuelan official was trying to score political points with the ICJ by making these allegations.
“You have seen at this press conference and elsewhere speak out against xenophobia. This’s a total misrepresentation by Vice President Delcy Rodriguez before the ICJ. She’s trying to score political points there… So, she’s hoping to get the sympathy of the court by citing that this is happening now in Guyana… Her statement before the ICJ is false, this is not happening in Guyana. This is misleading the ICJ on this issue,” he stated.

According to Jagdeo, these remarks by the Venezuelan Vice President are a cause for concern. As such, he was questioned on Thursday whether Guyana’s legal team would be filing additional memorandums to the court on this matter.
In response, Jagdeo said: “I hope our lawyers point this out because… it’s a cause for concern… We’ve spoken out against xenophobia, and [called for the] fair and decent treatment of Venezuelans here, and all the institutions of State are according people that treatment in keeping with our obligations on the international law and standards of decency – the norms of decency. We have consistently held that view.

“I’ve even gone so far as to argue that as a nation that sent people abroad, including into Venezuela, when times were difficult here – they became economic migrants – that beyond international law, we have a moral obligation to treat people fairly when they come here to look for a living – those economic migrants… So, for her to go and tell the court that we’re practising and promoting xenophobia here is patently false and so, our lawyers should address that.”
According to the Vice President, the Guyana Government has ensured that all Venezuelans living here, the majority of whom are either Guyana-born or have Guyanese parentage, are treated with dignity and respect once they abide by the local laws.

In fact, only earlier this month, Jagdeo denounced the inhumane treatment of Venezuelans here as reprehensible. This was after a video had circulated on social media in which two migrants, accused of being thieves, were bullied into stripping and walking along the road. The Guyana Police Force has since arrested and charged 37-year-old Ahmad Ally, a joiner, of Peters Hall, East Bank Demerara (EBD), over the matter.
“We are not going to be part of any movement to promote xenophobia in our country against people,” the Vice President declared at a previous press conference earlier this month.

On Thursday, Jagdeo reiterated that Government has and continues to condemn such treatment of Venezuelans – an official policy position of not just the Administration but the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C). As a matter of fact, he noted that this posture has even gotten him into trouble with the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) Opposition parties – whenever he condemns xenophobia and maltreatment of migrants.
“It wasn’t done for political reasons. It’s largely because we knew that they would misrepresent this issue and we’ve seen how misrepresentation has caused a whole range of issues in the past,” the Vice President posited.
Guyana has asked the ICJ to impose provisional measures to prevent Venezuela from posing certain questions to its population via a planned referendum that is set for December 3, 2023 over its claim to the Essequibo region.

On September 21, 2023, Venezuela’s National Assembly passed a resolution calling for a referendum regarding Venezuela’s unsubstantiated claim to Essequibo, two-thirds of Guyana’s territory . Subsequently, the Venezuelan National Electoral Council last month published a list of five questions that it plans to put before the Venezuelan people. The referendum will seek the Venezuelan people’s approval to, among other things, annex Guyana’s territory in the Essequibo and create a Venezuelan state. This particular question (#5) also seeks the citizens’ approval for Venezuela granting citizenship and identity cards for residents of Essequibo.
Guyana’s legal team argued before the World Court that the country was not attempting to halt Venezuela’s referendum, but rather, seeking provisional measures that will prevent its Essequibo region from being annexed by any means.
After hearing from the two countries on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively, the ICJ is expected to hand down a ruling soon. (G8)

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