President Ali rejects Venezuela’s decree to unilaterally extend maritime boundary with Guyana

Last Updated on Saturday, 9 January 2021, 17:56 by Denis Chabrol

President Irfaan Ali on Saturday afternoon rejected Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro’s unilateral extension of his country’s maritime boundary with Venezuela to take in the the Atlantic waters off the Essequibo Region.

Dr. Ali said the most senior official of the Venezuelan embassy in Georgetown was Saturday called in and told of Guyana’s objection to the “deeply disturbing decree” by the Venezuelan President last Thursday that seeks to claim sovereignty and exclusive sovereign rights in the waters and seabed adjacent to Guyana’s coast, west of the Essequibo Region.

“The Officer-in-Charge has been told to convey to the Venezuelan authorities in Caracas, that, in accordance with international law, and is assertion of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, Guyana rejects entirely the decree issued by President Maduro,” the Guyanese leader said, He assured that the opposition would be involved in the process in protecting Guyana’s sovereignty.

In effect,  President Maduro’s decree takes in part of the Stabroek Block which has been granted to American oil giant, ExxonMobil.

The President’s address to the nation came as the United States Coast Guard and the Guyana Defence Force were conducting maneuvers six nautical miles offshore Guyana to counter mainly illegal and unregulated fishing.

President called for regional and international solidarity against Venezuela’s acts which violate international law and amount to a “legal nullity.”  In the meantime, we are alerting the International Community, including our sister-states in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and in the Americas of the danger to international peace and security that is being threatened by last Thursday’s Venezuela decree which violates fundamental principles of international law,” he said.

The latest developments concerning the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy comes as the Commander of the US Southern Command, Navy Admiral Craig Faller prepares to visit Guyana from January 11-13. “He will meet with government and defense leaders and discuss the bilateral security partnership between the United States and Guyana,” the US Embassy in Georgetown said.

The International Court of Justice has already ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear the merits of Guyana’s case on the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award that settled the land boundary with Venezuela.