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Guyana asks UK for support against Venezuela’s aggression

The United Kingdom High Commissioner to Guyana, Greg Quinn and President David Granger cutting the cake in honour of Queen Elizabeth II birthday.

Guyana’s President, David Granger Thursday night appealed to the United Kingdom (UK) to support his country in staving off Venezuela’s increasingly aggressive claim to Essequibo and the coastal waters off that mineral and forest rich region.

“We call on all states, particularly the United Kingdom during the regime of which the territorial issue arose and was resolved peacefully by international arbitral tribunal, to demonstrate solidarity with Guyana and to condemn the use, or threat of the use, of force in the settlement of international disputes,” Granger told a reception in honour of Queen Elizabeth’s birthday.

The Commonwealth of which Guyana and the United Kingdom are members has consistently supported this country’s contention that the border with Venzuela has been settled.

The Guyanese leader noted that Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro’s  Decree No. 1787 issued on May 27, unilaterally extending that Spanish-speaking neighbour’s claim to Guyana’s waters “include the exploration site of Exxon-Mobil.” “It has become increasingly clear that Venezuela intends to put Guyana under pressure and stymie its development by its unfriendly actions,”  said Granger, a retired Brigadier of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF).

Renewed border tensions have surfaced less than one month after Exxon-Mobil announced a signficant oil-find offshore Guyana.

Granger welcomed the United Kingdom’s support for Guyana’s position on Venezuela’s claims to the land and sea boundaries.  “Guyana-Venezuela relations, since the independence of Guyana in 1966, have been affected by intermittent and aggressive claims by Venezuela on Guyana’s territory,”  the President said.

The Guyana government has already announced plans to ask United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon to move beyond his 25-year long Good Officer Process to a juridical settlement of the controversy. That is despite the fact that the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award had fully and finally settled the land boundary between the two countries. The actual demarcation was done in 1905.

Guyana’s Foreign Minister, Carl Greenidge told Demerara Waves Online News that government plans to approach the Commonwealth and other international fora that “Venezuela is perpetrating an illegal act that everybody recognizes.”

Commonwealth leaders plan to meet in Malta in November, but there is room for Guyana to raise the issue at the level of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG).

Greenidge observed that Venezuela has for several decades never produced an iota evidence to prove its case that the 1899 Award was full and final.

Venezuela has long claimed Guyana’s Essequibo region, which comprises two-thirds of Guyana’s 215,000 square kilometers (83,000 square miles).

Guyana’s land boundary was settled by a court of arbitration set up after a crisis that prompted the United States to intervene in favor of Venezuela against Britain, asserting the Monroe Doctrine.

Venezuela has never recognized the line, and the dispute has simmered ever since, extending in recent years to maritime rights off the disputed area.