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Venezuela’s national referendum questions on Essequibo region amount to annexation of Guyana’s territory – Guyana Times

…country calls attention of international community as Venezuela’s actions can incite violence; threaten peace, security of Guyana

The Government of Guyana on Monday evening, said that it has taken careful note of the issuance by the National Electoral Council of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela of five questions to be asked in the national referendum scheduled for December 3, 2023.
In a statement issued, the Government said that among other questions, all of which are intended to further Venezuela’s unlawful and unfounded claim to more than two-thirds of Guyana’s national territory, “question five is the most pernicious: it brazenly seeks the approval of the Venezuelan people of the creation of a new Venezuelan State consisting of Guyana’s Essequibo region, which would be incorporated into the national territory of Venezuela, and the granting of Venezuelan citizenship to the population.”
This, the Guyana Government said, amounts to nothing less than “the annexation of Guyana’s territory, in blatant violation of the most fundamental rules of the UN Charter, the OAS Charter and general international law. Such a seizure of Guyana’s territory would constitute the international crime of aggression.”

“The Government of Guyana categorically rejects any attempt to undermine the territorial integrity of the sovereign State of Guyana. The Government finds abhorrent that the Essequibo region which forms part of the territory of Guyana in accordance with the 1899 Arbitral Award that demarcated the boundaries of the States of Venezuela and then British Guiana, should be ‘created’ into a State within Venezuela,” the Government of Guyana’s statement read.
Further, it states that the Government rejects the internationally unlawful act to put forward the ‘granting of citizenship and Venezuelan identity cards in accordance with the Geneva Agreement and international law’. “It is by way of the Geneva Agreement and the principles of international law that the question of the validity of the Arbitral Award of 1899 has been put before the International Court of Justice. That Court has ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear this case. Guyana has repeatedly encouraged Venezuela to participate in the case.”

“The people of Guyana remain resolute against any threats to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of their country. Neither the Government or the people of one country have the right in international law to seize, annexe or take the territory of another country. International law emphatically prohibits this,” the statement read.
The Government of Guyana on Monday evening called the attention of the international community to the actions being carried out by the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, “which have the potential to incite violence and to threaten the peace and security of the State of Guyana and by extension the Caribbean Region.

Increased presence at border
Only on Thursday last, the reports on social media of increased Venezuelan military activity at Guyana’s borders, that were being attributed by Venezuela to their efforts to curb illegal mining, was reported by Guyana to its international and regional partners.
In a statement, it was explained by the Government that it has been taking careful note of the various reports of increased Venezuelan military activity close to Guyana’s borders.
The reports had suggested that Venezuelan military has been conducting exercises at Eteringbang, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), and has been on the move with pieces of their equipment.
Reaffirming that every report is taken seriously and that the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) has been reviewing these reports, the Government had explained that they reached out to the Venezuelan Ambassador to Guyana, Carlos Amador Pérez Silva, to demand an explanation.

“To this end, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation requested today an explanation of the Venezuelan Ambassador who claimed that the mobilisation of troops was geared towards curbing illegal mining operations,” the Government said in its statement on October 18.
Notwithstanding Venezuela’s explanation, however, the Government made it clear that Venezuela’s increased military activities close to the border, has been reported to the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Heads of Government and other international partners.
For its part, the parliamentary Opposition through shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs Amanza Walton Desir has issued a call on Foreign Minister Hugh Todd, to convene an urgent meeting of the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Foreign Relations, so that members could be briefed on the development.

Threatened Guyana
Last month, Venezuela had issued a communique that threatened Guyana and protested against Guyana’s efforts to auction its oil blocks, even though all the blocks are in Guyana’s sovereign territory.
President Dr Irfaan Ali had issued a stern response in a video broadcast, also announcing that he has since updated not only the Speaker of the House, Manzoor Nadir, but also Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton, on the Guyana v Venezuela controversy, as well as the support Guyana has gotten from the international community.
In a social media post, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro had responded to President Ali and accused Guyana of jeopardising peace in the Region, despite the Spanish speaking country initiating the controversy.
The Venezuelan President had also proposed to President Ali that the two sides meet, with Caricom as a mediator, to return to the Geneva Agreement of 1966 that affirmed the 1899 Arbitral Award.

However, Guyana currently has a case against Venezuela before the International Court of Justice (ICJ)… a case the Spanish-speaking country has been seeking to block, including by using spurious arguments such as claiming that the 1899 Arbitral Award is void. The ICJ has already ruled, however, that it has the jurisdiction to hear the case.
Guyana’s legal team is headed by Co-Agent and Counsel, Sir Shridath Ramphal, and includes a member of the Bars of the United States Supreme Court and the District of Columbia, Paul S Reichler; and Professor Emeritus of the University Paris Nanterre, former Chairman of the International Law Commission and member of the Institute de Droit International, Alain Pellet.
United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, in January 2018, decided that the case should be settled by the ICJ, after exercising the powers vested in him to decide how the controversy should be settled by the 1966 Geneva Agreement between Guyana, Venezuela, and the United Kingdom.

He resorted to judicial settlement after the good offices process between Guyana and Venezuela failed. Within the framework of the 1966 Geneva Agreement between the two countries, the Secretary General conducted good offices from 1990 to 2017 to find a solution to the border controversy.
Among other things, Guyana is asking the ICJ to adjudge and declare that the 1899 Award is valid and binding upon Guyana and Venezuela, that Venezuela is internationally responsible for violations of Guyana’s sovereignty and sovereign rights, and for all injuries suffered by Guyana as a consequence.

Guyana has meanwhile received consistent support from the international community, against Venezuela’s intimidation tactics. Support has come from the United States (US), Caricom, the Organisation of American States (OAS), and the Commonwealth.
After the Venezuelan National Assembly decided last month to hold a referendum on the border controversy, the OAS had harsh words for the planned Venezuelan resolution. The OAS had noted that the referendum would be illegal under the terms of the 1966 Geneva Agreement, affirming the 1899 Arbitral Award confirming Essequibo as part of Guyana. Caricom had also expressed grave concern at the recent development in the Venezuelan National Assembly.

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