Guyana Expresses Concern Over Venezuela’s Claim on Essequibo Region

Disputed Essequibo Guyana Venezuela Border
Disputed Essequibo Guyana Venezuela Border

In a recent statement, Guyana expressed significant concerns over Venezuela’s renewed claims to the Essequibo region, a territory that constitutes about two-thirds of Guyana and houses 125,000 of its 800,000 citizens. Speaking at the Regional Security System (RSS) Council of Ministers Meeting, Guyana’s Home Affairs Minister, Robeson Benn, highlighted a violation by Venezuela of the Joint Declaration of Argyle for Dialogue and Peace negotiated in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in December of the previous year.

This declaration, born out of discussions between Guyana and Venezuela with CARICOM’s involvement, was aimed at ensuring both parties refrain from actions that could exacerbate the situation. However, Venezuela’s recent declaration, as approved by its National Assembly, designating Essequibo as Venezuelan territory, has been deemed regrettable and a violation of the good faith discussions undertaken at Argyle and in subsequent talks in Brazil.

The Essequibo dispute, dating back to a contention dissolved in 1899 but revived by Venezuela in the mid-20th century, has been a longstanding issue between the two nations. The Joint Declaration of Argyle emphasized resolving any controversies in accordance with international law, including the 1966 Geneva Agreement. Both countries have expressed commitment to peaceful coexistence and resolving the border controversy through international legal channels, with Guyana relying on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and Venezuela not recognizing the ICJ’s jurisdiction.

Minister Benn stressed Guyana’s position that the dispute should be resolved legally, expressing confidence in Guyana’s vindication. He also voiced concerns over instability in Venezuela, particularly from non-state actors involved in illicit activities near the border. Guyana’s stance remains one of peace and cooperation, with Benn highlighting the humanitarian support provided to Venezuelan migrants in Guyana and calling for the protection of Guyanese and their descendants in Venezuela.

As the region faces this renewed tension, Guyana seeks continued dialogue and engagement, emphasizing the importance of the CARICOM region as a zone of peace. The support of international partners, including the United States, Canada, and Brazil, is deemed crucial in navigating this dispute and ensuring stability in the region.

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