Last Updated on Wednesday, 1 June 2016, 15:49 by Denis Chabrol
The Guyana government has officially protested the Venezuelan soldiers’ shooting at a vessel that was transporting mines officers of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) in Guyanese waters.
“The ministry has dispatched a Note Verbale to the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs conveying the Government of Guyana’s gravest concern over this incident and calling on the Venezuelan government to desist from such provocative and dangerous actions on Guyana’s border,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Guyana also warned its western neighbour that such acts could lead to the destabilization of relations.
The Foreign Ministry was also preparing to lodge a formal complaint with United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon in his capacity as Good Officer in the controversy over the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award that fully and finally settled the land border between Guyana and Venezuela.
The Foreign Ministry related that at about 5:20 PM on Monday, May 30, 2016 Venezuelan soldiers opened fire on a chartered boat that was ferrying three GGMC mines officers from Arau located in the Essequibo Region.
No one was injured in the attack that occurred, according to the Foreign Ministry, one mile from the Eteringbang Police Station.
Venezuela accepted the 1899 Arbitral Award for more than 60 years before claiming in 1962 that it was null and void. In 1932, the tri-junction point where Guyana, Venezuela and Brazil meet was determined to be the border among the three countries.
Fed up that the UN Good Officer mediation process has not worked for more than 20 years, Guyana wants the border controversy to be taken to the World Court even if it is for a legal opinion. The UN Chief has the authority under the Geneva Agreement to refer the controversy for a juridical settlement.
No one was injured.
Guyana warned that such actions could lead to the destabilization of relations between the two neighbouring South American countries.
Relations between Guyana and Venezuela deteriorated last year following Exxon Mobil’s discovery of a “significant” oil reserve offshore Guyana. Venezuela retaliated by unilaterally extending its maritime zone to include all of the Atlantic sea off the Essequibo Region.
The 15-nation Caribbean Community (Caricom) has since frowned on Venezuela’s unilateral maritime boundary extension which also has implications for all of the Caribbean islands, Suriname and even French Guiana.