Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo does not believe the Guyana government should talk with Venezuela’s opposition on the border controversy despite its landslide victory in Sunday’s parliamentary elections.
“Engagement is good with everyone, but what is important is statecraft which is dealing with your counterpart which is the government of Venezuela or the Executive in Venezuela,” he said.
Jagdeo said at any rate, the stance on Venezuela’s claim to the Essequibo by the victorious Democratic Unity Roundtable (Mesa de la Unidad Democrática or MUD) is well-known and so the Guyana government should merely dispatch correspondence to each lawmaker.
Former Guyana Ambassador to Venezuela, Dr. Odeen Ishmael has advocated that the Guyana government hold talks with MUD to get ascertain their views on the controversy over the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award that settled the land boundary between the two countries especially since it is likely that coalition could form the next government in another three years. MUD won 112 to 51 of the seats against the incumbent United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV)
The former President acknowledged the need to engage in “small state diplomacy” in Latin America even as Venezuela was engaged in outreach activities. At the same time, he said attempts to engage Venezuela’s opposition should be confined to writing each of MUD’s parliamentary representatives rather than hold talks.
“If they become the next government then you have to deal with them as the main interlocutor. At this point in time, like we have done in many cases in the past if we want to send something about our position, get it translated send it to every member of parliament the Venezuelan Congress so they know our position,” he said.
Jagdeo recalled that he had objected to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the People’s National Congress Reform and Desi Bouterse’s party several years ago.
Jagdeo believes that MUD has a “tougher position” on the border controversy than President Nicolas Maduro’s administration. “In my view, the opposition in Venezuela has a tougher position on the border than the current government has if I can judge them by their public statements or statements made by many of their leaders,” he said. He recalled seeing statements from the opposition that Venezuela should go to war with Guyana.
It was Maduro who earlier this year unilaterally extended his country’s maritime boundary by decree to include all of the Atlantic sea off Essequibo, shortly after America’s Exxon-Mobil announced the discovery of a significant oil deposit offshore Essequibo.
Maduro had also deployed troops, missiles and gunboats near the Guyana-Venezuela border in late September, but later told the United Nations General Assembly that that was part of a counter-narcotics operation on the borders with Guyana and Colombia.