Guyana Seeks Clarity from St. Vincent PM Gonsalves Over Controversial Map in Photo

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SVG Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves (left) and his Foreign Minister, Keisal Melissa Peters (extreme right) in photo of a map of Venezuela that annexes the Essequibo Region

The Guyana government has received an explanation from St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves regarding his appearance in a photograph featuring a map of Venezuela that includes Guyana’s Essequibo County. The photo, taken in December 2022 at a celebratory event, raised concerns due to the ongoing border dispute between Guyana and Venezuela over the Essequibo region.

Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd noted that the photo is dated and that clarity on the event is expected. Todd also spoke with St. Vincent and the Grenadines Foreign Affairs Minister Keisal Melissa Peters, who appeared in the photo. Gonsalves is anticipated to issue a statement regarding the image, which was publicized after being posted on Facebook by Antigua and Barbuda’s Permanent Representative to the United States and the Organisation of American States (OAS), Sir Ronald Sanders.

Sanders, a Guyanese-born diplomat, expressed his belief that Gonsalves was unaware that the map showed the Essequibo region as part of Venezuela. Sanders, who has known Gonsalves for over 40 years, asserts that Gonsalves would not consciously display such an image amidst the ongoing controversy and his role as an interlocutor in the dispute.

As the Pro-Tempore Chairman of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), Gonsalves played a significant role in facilitating a meeting between Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro and Guyana President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali in Kingstown on December 14 last year. The meeting, also facilitated by Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, led to the Argyle Declaration, which eased tensions over the Essequibo region ownership.

Gonsalves remarked that the leaders of Venezuela and Guyana felt they achieved “important victories” in addressing the border dispute following the talks. He emphasized that the Joint Declaration of Argyle for Dialogue and Peace between Guyana and Venezuela commits both countries to peaceful resolution of the dispute in accordance with international law, including the 1966 Geneva Agreement. Gonsalves highlighted the significance of the agreement, particularly its commitment against the use of force or violence in resolving the controversy.

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