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Granger, Maduro for head-to-head on border controversy at MERCOSUR Summit

President David Granger.

President David Granger plans to advance Guyana’s position in relation to the continuing claim by Venezuela to Guyana’s territory during an upcoming meeting of the customs union known as MERCOSUR.

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro is also expected to attend the two-day meeting to be held in Brazil.

During a post-Cabinet press conference on Wedneday, Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman, told the press that the purpose of the meeting is to “introduce the new Government of Guyana (GoG)” but also to “address issues of soverignity.”

Asked if the President intends to raise the issue of Venezuela’s claim to Guyana’s territory, Trotman said “of course, every visit, every utterance, every appearance…has to be to reinforce our position vis a vis our territorial integrity, and of course to garner support and to provide explanations because people believe that this is some old romantic notion…”

In fact, Trotman believes that this meeting serves as a “…golden opportunity (for Granger) to present Guyana’s case to (our) South American brothers and sisters.”

Garnering support within the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR)- whose member states are also part of MERCOSUR- would bode well for Guyana as the international organisation is made up of some of Venezuela’s closes, and most important international allies.

Minister of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon, disclosed that the president will travel to Brazil for the meeting on Thursday. He will be accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Greenidge, as well as several other staff members from the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Harmon further disclosed.

Guyana became an associate member of MERCOSUR in 2013.

In recent months Venezuela has ramped up its claims to Guyana’s territory. Just recently, Venezuelan President, Nicolás Maduro, who issued Decrees aimed at relieving Guyana of much of its territorial waters, asked United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, to appoint a new Good Officer to act as a mediator between Guyana and Venezuela vis a vis Venezuela’s claim.

Greenidge, however, has said that Guyana is no longer interested in the Good Officer Process as it has yielded no progress and has left the matter unresolved after over two decades of its employment. He is in favour of a judicial settlement.

Meanwhile, President Granger has used every forum he has attended recently to bolster support for Guyana as it asserts its territorial integrity. During a recent meeting of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government meeting in Barbados Granger solicited a statement from the bloc of countries in which they threw their support behind Guyana.

Granger, during a UN Conference in Ethiopia on Monday, used the opportunity to highlight Venezuela’s claims, and iterate Guyana’s intention to resist Venezuela’s claims. There, the President said “We resent, reject, and resist the threat or use of force of any unilateral coercive attempt by one state against another on order to frustrate the legitimate aspirations of our people to enjoy a good life.” “The Charter of the United Nations,” he continued, “and the tenets of international law must be guaranteed to all states and peoples in the quest for secure livelihoods and sustainable development.”

Granger has vowed to use every forum, local and international, to highlight Venezuela’s claim, and to bolster support against this claim.