Hours before President David Granger was due to hold decisive talks with Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro and United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, the Guyanese leader welcomed that neighbouring country’s withdrawal of troops from near the border and hoped that Cuba could influence an easing of tensions.
The President said he wanted Venezuela to return its Ambassador to Guyana and approve Cheryl Miles as this country’s top envoy to Caracas.
“You cannot expect us to talk and remove the persons who do the talking. We want agrément, because the ambassadors are the two point persons through [whom] the two countries can communicate quickly and effectively,” he was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the Ministry of the Presidency.
Guyana has repeatedly said that it was willing to hold bilateral talks on trade and functional cooperation.
Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro more than two months ago recalled his Ambassador to Georgetown, Reina Margarita Arratia Diaz and ordered a review of diplomatic relations between the two neighbouring South American countries.
Earlier this month, their relations dipped further when Maduro ordered a temporary halt to the processing of approval for Miles to be accredited Guyana’s Ambassador to Caracas and subsequently deployed troops, missiles, tanks and gunboats near the border with Guyana.
As part of Guyana’s diplomatic strategy, President Granger on Sunday lobbied Cuba’s President, Raul Castro for support in getting Venezuela to normalize relations with Guyana and restore the Caribbean to a zone of peace. . “Guyana has lost territory to Venezuela, as you know, in the 1899 Tribunal award and we want to get ahead with our development and we believe that Cuba’s weight in the Caribbean could influence the outcome in ensuring that the Caribbean remains a zone of peace,” President Granger said.
Granger and Castro held talks on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly being held in New York.
Granger pointed out that Guyana was among several Caribbean countries, dating back to 1970, that had established diplomatic relations with Cuba. “As you know Guyana, Trinidad, Barbados and Jamaica were instrumental in working for the normalisation of relations with Cuba since the early 1970s. We have a long tradition of friendship. We have many Cuba trained doctors and many points of contact between the two states,” he said.
At that time, the United States had lobbied the Caribbean and other nations to isolate Cuba diplomatically and economically because that Spanish-speaking island was communist, undemocratic and violated human rights.