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GUYANA-VENEZUELA BORDER CLAIM-Granger takes his call for a legal settlement to the UN General Assembly

President David Granger addressing the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, September 29, 2015.

President David Granger on Tuesday widened his international call for the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy to be taken International Court of Justice (ICJ) when he addressed the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

He stressed that that would be the best option to ensure that a lasting and final solution was be found in the shortest possible time and so remove the threat of military conflict in the Western Hemisphere.

“Guyana does not wish that this obnoxious territorial claim should obscure the prospects of peace and obstruct the possibility of growth for the next fifty years. We need a permanent solution in order to avoid the fate of perpetual peril and penury. Guyana seeks a juridical settlement to this controversy,” he told the 70th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) being held in New York.

His call comes as Guyana prepares to celebrate 50 years as an Independent nation, most of which has been distracted by Venezuela’s claim to the mineral and forest-rich Essequibo Region.

Granger’s stance before the UNGA came two days after, in talks brokered by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro decided to restore diplomatic relations with Guyana and agree that a UN fact-finding mission would visit Caracas before briefing the UN Chief on their assessments and advice on the way forward. “Guyana rejects the threats and claims by Venezuela which are in defiance of international law. Guyana resists Venezuela’s acts of aggression in defiance of the Charter of the United Nations which prescribes the peaceful settlement of disputes and proscribes the use of armed force,” he said.

Guyana maintains that the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award represents the full, final and perfect settlement of the land border with Venezuela.

Reiterating that the 23-year old UN Secretary General’s ‘Good Officer’ mediation process has become exhausted, he lamented  Venezuela’s aggression that has been scaring away investors by resorting to its military might, which is more than 40 times the size of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF). “Venezuela is unsettling a settled border. It is destabilizing a stable region of the globe by the use of armed force against a peaceful, small state,” said Granger, a retired Brigadier of the GDF. “Venezuela has retarded Guyana’s development by threats that are intended to force a small state to yield its birthright,” he said.

Venezuela has for several decades now flexed its diplomatic and military muscles in discouraging the financing  of a huge hydropower plant in Essequibo, sought to scare away huge gold mining concerns as well as offshore oil exploration companies. Back in 2013, the Venezuelan Navy chased out and detained a seismic research vessel that had been conducting work in an oil exploration concession granted by Guyana to the American company, Anadarko.  And, following the discovery of a huge quantity of oil offshore Essequibo, Venezuela issued a decree annexing the Atlantic Sea offshore Essequibo,” said Granger.

“For fifty years, our small country has been prevented from fully exploiting our rich natural resources. Venezuela has threatened and deterred investors and frustrated our economic development

For the Guyanese leader, his patience has grown thin with those types of manoeuvres over the years and he believes that the time has come to end Venezuela’s economic, political and military aggression against a small state such as Guyana.

Only days ago before the UN-brokered talks between President Granger and his Venezuelan counterpart that Venezuela scaled back its presence of troops, missiles and gunboats near the border with Guyana.