Last Updated on Sunday, 19 November 2023, 17:56 by Denis Chabrol
The Working People’s Alliance (WPA), vowing to back a united front against Venezuela’s intensified aggression to snatch the Essequibo County, has recommended that the Guyana government hold a counter-referendum and establish a broad-based National Border Task Force to strategise on the issue.
The WPA recommended that the Task Force be set up as permanent mechanism as it is clear that even if the International Court of Justice (ICJ) upholds Guyana’s case that the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award is a full, perfect and final settlement of the land boundary with Venezuela.
“We, therefore, call on the government to treat the matter with the requisite seriousness that it deserves by setting up a Venezuela Border Task Force with the expressed task of fashioning and implementing a carefully thought-out overall approach to this problem. Such a task force should include members of the National Assembly from both sides of the political divide, representatives of the Executive Branch and professionals and experts with the necessary skill set in the relevant areas,” the WPA said.
Describing the territorial controversy as “clearly a permanent problem” even after an ICJ decision, the WPA indicated that such a Task Force should not bring an end to “domestic political contestation”. That party instead appealed for an enlargement of the political space for joint action in pursuit of an overarching national response to Venezuela. “That Venezuela challenges the very legitimacy of the current case before the ICJ exposes a dangerous mindset, which can only lead to permanent aggression on the part of Caracas.”
That political party, which still enjoys good relations with the People’s National Congress Reform-led A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) from which it had walked away after the 2020 general and regional elections over its maltreatment, also recommended that the Guyana government call a referendum to counter Venezuela’s December 3 referendum that seeks a popular vote for the Maduro government’s decision not to recognise the ICJ as the means of settling the controversy and for the declaration of Guyana’s Essequibo County as a State of Venezuela where all Guyanese there would be granted citizenship and handed Venezuelan identification cards.
“WPA feels very strongly that the government, with the support of the National Assembly, should consider calling a counter-referendum in Guyana with the clear intention of affirming Guyana’s territorial integrity and our country’s commitment to a just, legal, and peaceful resolution to the issue,” that party said. Further, the WPA believed that a Guyana referendum would serve as a medium for popular education and mobilization of the popular mass of Guyanese citizens. . “Not a blade of Grass” must become more than a slogan—it must be a guide to sensible action.
Cautioning that while Venezuela leadership is telling the world that it has no intention of invading Guyana, its rhetoric and internal actions leave no doubt that its intention is to hurt Guyana by undermining its major source of national revenue. “In that regard, WPA calls on the government to avoid reckless decision-making in the Oil and Gas sector that could be used as excuses by Venezuela to undermine its growth and stability,” the party added. While agreeing that the domestic political situation in Venezuela might be a motivating factor for its recent aggression, the WPA believed that Guyana’s rise as a Petro-State is ultimately the root cause. “This expression of greed by our neighbor has no place in international relations,” the WPA added.
WPA commended the government for putting the matter on the front-burner of its foreign policy agenda, but asked that the situation demand a much more pro-active national approach that transcends narrow partisan considerations. “There is more than a hint of sloth, complacency, and partisan grandstanding, which is in stark contrast to Venezuela’s singlemindedness—a recipe which is counterproductive to the collective national interest and security,” WPA added.
The WPA told the government and people of Guyana that they should simplistically harbor the view that our allies and friends would automatically stand with us. All countries act first in pursuit of their national interests. The WPA also advised that Guyana be intentional and purposeful in winning over traditional friends and allies to our cause. The party added that that requires permanent shuttle diplomacy to CAEICOM, Commonwealth. and OAS member States along with other non-traditional allies.