Guyana should seek stronger Latin American support to ensure Venezuela obeys ICJ’s final ruling- Professor Kirton; Brazil’s support solid- Jagdeo

Last Updated on Saturday, 8 April 2023, 11:36 by Denis Chabrol

Professor Mark Kirton addressing the launch of his book titled “Building Bridges in The Amazon” – Guyana Brazil Relations Into the 21st Century”

Guyana will continue to rely on Brazil for support in ensuring Venezuela complies with the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) final ruling on the border controversy with its western Spanish-speaking neighbour, authorities said.

International Relations Professor Dr Mark Kirton, at the same time, advised that Guyana should stiffen its lobby of Latin American nations to convince Venezuela that it should obey the final decision on Guyana’s case concerning the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award on the land boundary with Guyana.

“I have no doubt that the spurious claim will not be entertained by the ICJ but I think that compliance could be a question that will be raised  and, therefore, even before that judgement is made somewhere, certainly by 2024-2025, that we should enlist stronger support from Latin American states to ensure compliance with the judgement wherever it goes and that Brazil, to my mind, may be a key player in that particular issue,” he told the launching ceremony of his latest publication titled “Building Bridges in The Amazon – Guyana Brazil Relations Into the 21st Century.”

Authorities said the ICJ, also known as the World Court, could issue its final decision in 2025 if the timetable for submitting legal representation to that United Nations juridical mechanism.

He urged Guyanese to recognise Brazil as a valued strategic neighbour partner and emerging regional and global player in fora such as Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC).

A section of the audience that attended the launch of Professor Mark Kirton’s latest publication, “”Building Bridges in The Amazon” – Guyana Brazil Relations Into the 21st Century”.

Dr Kirton reflected on the fact that Brazil has had a track record of standing as a “counterweight to any kind of territorial aggression against us” with two States at that time.

Dating back to 1982 when then Guyana President Forbes Burnham had signed an agreement with his Brazilian counterpart to build a road from Lethem to Linden, he said that was project was aimed at reasserting Guyana’s sovereignty over the Essequibo Region being claimed by Venezuela. “That was seen by the then government as a critical component in ensuring that the borders of Guyana were maintained. The argument was that since Brazil had agreed to support the road which was passing through territory which was being claimed by Venezuela, then it won’t in principle support for the spurious claim against Guyana by Venezuela- a tacit demonstration of the support which was given and that has not changed to date,” said Dr Kirton, a former member of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) who had served in the Rupununi.

He is also a former professor at the University of Guyana and the University of the West Indies.

Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo earlier this week acknowledged the historic role that Brazil has played in the Guyana-Venezuela boundary dispute by taking the position that its existing borders would not be changed. “We have had public declarations from major countries in the region. Brazil, for one, said as far said that as they are concerned, the border is fixed… several administrations saying that so in Latin America we have had successes too,” he said. Mr Jagdeo noted that Brazil’s position is based on the fact that Guyana has contiguous borders with that country and Venezuela “so any adjustment of say the border will have an impact too n Brazil and so they took a definitive position. “Mr Jagdeo said the Guyana government has been presenting a “just position” to Latin America and the Caribbean as an “ongoing task”, and succeeded in having the Commonwealth establish a Ministerial Action Group.

In response to the ICJ’s dismissal of Venezuela’s preliminary objection on the grounds that Britain had a say in the border case, Caracas vowed to take all steps to pursue its claim to the mineral and forest-rich Essequibo Region. “The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela will exhaustively evaluate its implications and adopt all the measures at its disposal to defend its legitimate rights and territorial integrity,” the Venezuelan government said in a statement.

The Nicolas Maduro-led administration dismissed the ICJ’s decision that Britain was not an indispensable party to the case because Guyana was granted independence in 1966. Despite that judgement, Venezuela continues to maintain that Britain should be considered at the ICJ because that European Union had used “fraudulent mechanisms” to seize its territory.

“The United Kingdom of Great Britain was the State that, since 1840, forged maps and set up a stratagem to perpetrate the fraudulent arbitration committed against Venezuela in Paris in 1899. The United Kingdom was finally the one that signed and committed itself to the Geneva Agreement in 1966 to find a practical and mutually satisfactory solution to the territorial dispute,” Venezuela said after Thursday’s ruling.

Venezuela reminded Guyana of its historical position that a court could not be used to resolve the border controversy and that its interpretation of the 1966 Geneva Agreement is that only “direct political negotiations” could be used to do so.

Professor Kirton told the packed room of attendees, who included British and Brazilian envoys and people of different shades of political opinion, that his 212-page book would soon be translated into Portuguese and launched in Brazil.