Guyana opposes military intervention in Venezuela

Last Updated on Sunday, 30 September 2018, 8:29 by Denis Chabrol

Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge

Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Greenidge on Saturday said his country would not support the invasion of Venezuela from where people are continuing to flee worsening political, economic and social conditions.

“We have no interest, as a government and I think that is true of the opposition also in orchestrating or encouraging anybody to invade Venezuela,” he told a meeting with a group of Guyanese in New York.

Greenidge noted that Guyana, then British Guiana, had been the victim of external military intervention in 1953 when the constitution had been suspended and its political leaders locked up under a state of emergency. “We have, ourselves, been the victim of governments being removed by troops. I just have to remind you about that so we have to be very careful as we deal with such matters,” he added.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), according to declassified documents, had helped foment domestic strife in Guyana to remove Cheddi Jagan’s People’s Progressive Party from office for fear that he had been planning to set up another communist satellite state in the hemisphere, second to Cuba.

The Guyanese foreign minister’s comments came days after US President, Donald Trump suggested that military intervention could see Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro-led government being removed. “It’s a regime that frankly could be toppled very quickly by the military, if the military decides to do that.” Bloomberg reported that on Wednesday  he’d be willing to meet with Maduro at the UN this week if it would “save lives”.

Guyana is a member of the Lima Group of 18 hemispheric nations that have been pushing for an end to the political crisis in Venezuela. Left-wing activists in the Caribbean have chastised Guyana for participating in the Lima Group which they have said was more aimed at intervening in the internal affairs of Venezuela.

The Foreign Minister accused Venezuela of displaying greed over the Essequibo Region and the sea space offshore Essequibo, Demerara and parts of Berbice as well as the sea-space of 11 other Caribbean countries. “This gives you an idea of the extent of the avarice governing Venezuela’s behaviour,” he said.

The Foreign Affairs Minister hopes that when the International Court of Justice (ICJ) eventually settles the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy, that Spanish-speaking nation would no longer be able to scare away investors and attempt to convince countries that the Essequibo Region is hers and investors run the risk of diplomatic, economic or military action.

“The hope is that whether or not Venezuela changes its mind about the validity of the agreement that it can no longer command an audience after the court would have pronounced that listens with any credence,” said Greenidge. He last week told the United Nations General Assembly that Guyana still hoped that Venezuela would participate in the ICJ process.

Guyana has to submit its case to the ICJ by the end of November, 2019 and Venezuela by April 2019 if it chooses to participate. The Court could complete its hearings and eventually hand down its decision the latest by mid 2020.

Asked at the meeting with Guyanese whether Venezuela could appeal the ICJ’s decision, Greenidge said “when the court decides that is it.” “They (Venezuela) may refuse, for example, to agree with the Court’s decision or to accept it but that is their problem. The world acts on the basis of the highest court. They can’t go to a private firm or any other entity to say Guyana has taken its land. There is a decision there. It is the final decision on the matter,” he said.

The PPP-led government, just prior to leaving office, had told the UN that Guyana was fed up with 50 years of mediation because there was no solution in sight and the controversy over the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal boundary award should be taken to the ICJ. Since coming to office in 2015, the APNU+AFC coalition has pushed ahead aggressively with that position.