A group of Venezuelans, who recently crossed the border into Essequibo for research purposes, had reported to Guyanese authorities there but soldiers from the Spanish-speaking neighbour were not allowed entry.
“This visit was a visit that obtained the approval of the appropriate authorities at the point at which the delegation entered Guyana,” Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon told a news conference.
He explained that based on reports by Guyanese officials, the Venezuelans sought and received permission to engage members of Guyanese communities on the border who might have had some assumed relationship with Guyana. An International Relations expert said the fact alone that they sought permission meant that group recognized the legitimacy of the border which was settled in 1899 by an Arbitral Tribunal.
The 45 persons, who entered Guyana on August 31-the same day that their President, Nicolas Maduro was on an official visit here- had told authorities that the purpose of the visit was to research the linkages between residents in Venezuela’s San Martin and persons at Eteringbang in Guyana.
The estimated six uniformed and armed Venezuelan soldiers, Luncheon said, were not permitted to enter Guyana. “They were not allowed was the official report provided by the Guyanese authorities and it was as far as the authorities there were concerned a breach of the agreement, the understanding under which they were allowed to enter Guyana, a breach once drawn to their attention they made the suitable apologies and corrected,” he said.
Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com) was told that the soldiers were told they could not have entered Guyana with their weapons but were later seen in the Eteringbang area with them. They were alerted to the violation and they apologised.
The Venezuelan newspaper later reported that the visitors were members of a group named “My Map of Venezuela also Includes Our Essequibo”.
“We came here to carry out a civil exercise of sovereignty, but we do not understand what was Nicolás Maduro doing there (in Guyana),” said Law student Ricardo de Toma, a member of an organization called “My Map of Venezuela also Includes Our Essequibo” who took part in the expedition, along with administrator Jorge Luis Fuguett, and internationalist Rajihv Morillo. Sources said that at least three ex Venezuelan military generals were part of the group.
Maduro and his Guyanese counterpart have recommitted to using the United Nations process to find a lasting and peaceful solution to the controversy over the mineral and forest-rich Essequibo region.
Guyanese security experts are, however, said to be paying keen attention to rumblings in sections of the Venezuelan military and the opposition there that the Hugo Chavez cum Maduro administration has been taking a soft line on the territorial sovereignty of Essequibo.