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Guyana lobbies Latin American nations for support against Venezuela’s border claims

Chile’s Ambassador to Guyana H.E Mr. Claudio Rachel Rojas and his wife, Ms. Maritza Del Carmen Perez Quimbaya along with President David Granger and First Lady Mrs. Sandra Granger and Minister of State, Joseph Harmon as they propose a toast on the occasion of Chile’s 205th Independence celebration (GINA photo)

Guyana’s President, David Granger is continuing to lobby hemispheric support against Venezuela ahead of his address next week to the United Nations General Assembly.

Granger said while in New York, he is scheduled to hold meetings with UN Chief  Ban Ki Moon and possibly his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolas Maduro.

“Today (Friday) I spoke at the Chilean National Day. Earlier this week, I spoke at the Mexican National Day and I am calling on these big States like Chile and Mexico to support Small States like Guyana to make sure that the continent and (western) hemisphere remain a zone of peace,” he told reporters shortly before departing the town of Linden where he went on walk-about of several areas.

Granger is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly on September 25, 2015.

The President reiterated that in the boardroom he would be insisting that the border controversy over the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award of the land boundary be taken to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) because the UN Secretary General’s Good Officer process has failed to find a solution during its 23-year existence.

“We have to resolve this matter by juridical means. We will be going to court. We are not interested any longer in a sterile Good Officer process. We are going to go to court and settle this matter,”  said Granger, a retired Brigadier of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF).

Voted into office at the May 11, 2015 general and regional elections, the Guyanese leader lamented that Venezuela’s posture was affecting Guyana’s development in a “serious way.” “It is scaring away investors and it’s creating an atmosphere of tension and suspicion and it will deter investors from coming into this country,”  said the President.

Prior to departing for Linden, the Guyanese leader told a reception in honour of Chile’s National Day that, ““South America can remain a zone of peace only if those principles are observed scrupulously. Guyana applauds Chile’s affirmation, which states that international borders must be respected and that where disputes arise they should be settled through peaceful means and in accordance with international laws.”

More pointedly, Granger told the Mexican National Day reception that “We wish, therefore, to urge Mexico to use its influence in the hemisphere and on the international stage to reject the use, or threat of the use of force between states, to promote development and to preserve the Caribbean as a zone of peace.”

Back in October, 2013 a Malaysian seismic research vessel, Teknik Perdana, with a multinational team aboard was arrested by Venezuela’s Navy in an offshore oil exploration concession that has been granted to the American oil company, Anadarko.

Ever since the American oil giant, Exxon-Mobil, announced in May, 2015 that it had found a huge oil deposit offshore Essequibo,  Venezuela has heightened its aggression to Guyana by unilaterally extending its maritime boundary to include all the Atlantic waters off the Essequibo Region.

Venezuela has since refused to approve Guyana’s request for Ambassador Cheryl Miles to be accredited as this country’s top envoy in Caracas, citing “offensive” remarks by Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge in Florida. Greenidge has maintained that he has said nothing new, but represent Guyana’s legal position and that he would not be silenced.

That Spanish-speaking neighbour’s claim to Essequibo dates back to 1962 and 1966 when it challenged the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award after having participated in the boundary demarcation from 1901 to 1905.