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Jagdeo touts sovereignty over Essequibo, active communication with Venezuela

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo Friday night appealed to the government to rethink its position to scrap plans to build the almost US$1 billion Amaila Falls Hydro-power station, saying it would have consolidated Guyana’s sovereignty over the Essequibo Region.

“This is the ultimate expression of sovereignty,” said Jagdeo, a former President of this South American country that has a long-running border controversy with neighbouring Venezuela.

Showing a letter of commitment from the Inter American Development Bank (IDB), he explained that all hemispheric member states of that financial institution, including Venezuela, had supported the project.

Jagdeo challenged Finance Minister Winston Jordan to show the National Assembly why it would be unprofitable to build the hydro-power plant.

Still on the issue of border relations with Venezuela, the former Guyanese leader urged government to keep the lines of communication open with the Spanish-speaking neighbour and try to rescue the PetroCaribe concessionary oil deal and the purchasing of rice and paddy at much higher prices. “We have to talk to people. We have to get back that rice deal and  because of good relations we went back and got the rice deal,” he said.

He chided government for grounding the Venezuelan airline, CONVIASA, for a US$250,000 bond without considering that Guyana had benefitting from GUY$40 billion on the premium for the grain prices.

The Foreign Minister has repeatedly said that the Guyana government was not opposed to talks between President David Granger and his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolas Maduro on other issues, but believed that the border issue should be settled by the World Court. They are expected to meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly next months=.

The Opposition Leader called on Foreign Minister to discourage the government from introducing flags for Regions One, Two,, Seven, Eight and Nine- all in the Essequibo Region. “Please do not allow them to introduce flags for the regions of Essequibo because that this is where they will start undermine the unity under one flag,” he said, adding that Venezuela has already planned to issue identification cards to persons born in Essequibo. The Guyana government has floated the idea of the 10 administrative regions having separate flags.

Foreign Minister Greenidge earlier told the House that most Latin American countries support Venezuela’s position although they do not take into consideration the facts that the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award fully and finally settled the land border.

Greenidge noted that the delimitation of the maritime boundary between the two countries has to be settled bilaterally.