Opposition joins Govt in condemning latest Venezuelan aggression

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
President of Guyana Dr Irfaan Ali and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro

…slams violation of “spirit & letter” of Argyle Declaration

Venezuela’s recent adoption of a law seeking to declare the Essequibo region of Guyana to be a constituent part of the Spanish-speaking nation is seeing unified condemnation across party lines, with the main Opposition’s point man on legal affairs and Member of Parliament, Roysdale Forde, SC, strongly condemning the development.

On Sunday, Forde said that Venezuela’s recent actions not only exacerbate the longstanding border controversy over the Essequibo region but can only be viewed as a stark violation of the “spirit and letter” of the Argyle agreement.

“This agreement, a testament to our mutual commitment to peace, clearly stipulates that both Guyana and Venezuela shall refrain from any actions or rhetoric that could escalate conflicts arising from territorial controversies,” Forde noted in a statement.

Guyana’s Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs, Roysdale Forde, S.C.

“Venezuela’s unilateral declaration of the Essequibo region as its own starkly contravenes this agreement, undermining the principles of peace and diplomacy that both nations have pledged to uphold.”

Forde noted that the actions of Venezuela’s National Assembly also violate international law and depart from decades of established precedent and previously established historical agreements such as Venezuela’s recorded acknowledgement of the 1899 Arbitral Award and its subsequent 1905 Map, which were both integral to delineating the territorial boundaries of both countries.

“The recent actions by Venezuela not only disregard these historical agreements but also pose a significant threat to the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity—fundamental tenets that ensure the stability and security of nations worldwide. Such unilateral measures threaten to destabilise the Caribbean and Latin American region, creating a climate of uncertainty and potential conflict that extends far beyond our borders.”

“The unwavering support from the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and the Organisation of American States (OAS) underscores the international community’s solidarity with Guyana. It highlights the collective understanding of the importance of resolving this dispute through dialogue, adherence to international law, and the mechanisms provided by the [International Court of Justice] ICJ,” Forde wrote.

Forde meanwhile urged that a national dialogue involving all key stakeholders be convened. He further urged the entire country, across party lines, to stand together to defend Guyana’s territorial sovereignty.

Grave concern

On Friday, the Guyana Government had expressed grave concern over the adoption of the law by the Venezuelan National Assembly.

“Guyana remains committed to peace on its borders and in the Region. It will not allow its sovereignty and territorial territory to be usurped. Guyana will exert all of its efforts under international law to ensure that its sovereignty and territorial integrity remain intact,” the Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ministry in Georgetown had said in a statement.

According to the Ministry, this move by Venezuela is a flagrant violation of Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It is in breach of the fundamental principles of international law enshrined in the United Nations Charter.

“It is also an egregious violation of the order on provisional measures issued by the International Court of Justice on December 1, 2023, and it is a violation of the Argyle Declaration of December 14, 2023, agreed to by the leaders of Caricom and Brazil, the representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and by the Presidents of Guyana and Venezuela,” the statement had detailed.

The leaders of both Guyana and Venezuela had signed the Argyle Declaration, agreeing that Guyana and Venezuela, directly or indirectly, would not threaten or use force against one another in any circumstance, including those consequential to any existing controversies between the two States, and controversies between the two States would be resolved by international law, including the Geneva Agreement, among other points.

Tensions between Guyana and Venezuela had escalated when the Nicolás Maduro Government had held a referendum on December 3, 2023, purporting to annex Guyana’s Essequibo region.

Following the referendum, Venezuelan President Maduro announced a series of actions, including issuing identification cards to Guyanese living in Essequibo and issuing licences for mining and other activities in Guyana’s Essequibo.