Recently-appointed United States Ambassador to Guyana, Nicole Theriot has reaffirmed that the US would continue to stand in Guyana’s corner when it comes to threats to its territory and sovereignty, as she urged belligerent Venezuela to respect the International Court of Justice (ICJ) process.
On Tuesday, the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) held its award dinner and ceremony amid the backdrop of the latest flaring up of the Venezuela border controversy, which has seen Venezuela threaten to annex Essequibo.
In an interview on the sidelines of the event, Theriot had firm words when asked about US support for Guyana against Venezuela, making it clear that the US respected Guyana’s territory as she urged Venezuela to do the same.
“We support and respect the 1899 Arbitral Award, that established the current boundaries of Guyana. And we believe that those should be respected until they are determined to be different by an international body such as the ICJ… so we support the current territorial sovereignty of Guyana and we call on Venezuela to do the same,” Theriot said.
During her presentation to the attendees at the GMSA awards, Theriot reminded them of the importance of ensuring continuity in the country even while threats such as the one Venezuela poses to Guyana, are present.
“We find ourselves at a really unique time in Guyana’s history. And while we see international conflicts and malign actors seek to disrupt the global marketplace, I remain confident and optimistic for the future.
“We remain laser-focused on advocating for and implementing sound policies and are intentional about having our companies collaborate. I have no doubt that our two countries will continue to grow and prosper together,” the Ambassador said.
Meanwhile, members of the GMSA started off the awards ceremony by saying the Pledge. Afterwards, GMSA President Ramsay Ali reminded the membership of the importance of standing firm against Venezuela.
“We started off with the pledge… and it’s important that we understand where we are today. I think all the members of this association are fully aware and fully understand the role we have to play here in this country. And we know what we have to do. There’s a threat, it’s real. It’s not imagined. But as Guyanese, we understand that this country belongs to us,” Ali said.
At present, members of the US military from the US Army 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) are currently in Guyana helping the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) to build capacity against any territorial threats.
SFAB, which is a specialised unit of the US army that has assisted allies of the US in the past, arrived in Guyana this week. It is expected that SFAB personnel will conduct several joint training exercises with the GDF to strengthen its capacity and capability at the tactical and operational levels.
The US and Guyana enjoy a longstanding security partnership marked by strong collaboration between SOUTHCOM and the GDF that has historically been focused on disaster preparedness, humanitarian assistance, maritime security, human rights, professional development, defence and public security missions, and countering transnational crime.
It was only earlier this year that Guyana once again hosted Exercise Tradewinds, which saw more than 1500 security force personnel from 20 nations participating. Since its establishment in 1984, the Tradewinds Exercise, organised by SOUTHCOM, has symbolised unity and collaboration in the face of security challenges.
Only recently, Guyana’s Foreign Secretary, Robert Persaud met with US Acting Deputy Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland and Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Brian Nichols during an official trip to Washington that also took him to the White House.
On December 3, Venezuelans will go to the polls in a public referendum to tell their Government if they agree with Caracas’s position to incorporate Essequibo as a state of Venezuela, rename the state Guayana Esequiba, and grant its population Venezuelan citizenship.
Guyana’s Spanish-speaking neighbour has laid claim to more than two-thirds of Guyana’s landmass in the Essequibo region, and to a portion of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in which nearly 11 billion barrels of oil have been discovered largely by US oil giant ExxonMobil.
After years of a failed good offices process via the United Nations, Guyana is seeking a final and binding judgement to reinforce that the 1899 Arbitral Award remains valid and binding on all parties, as well as legal affirmation that Guyana’s Essequibo region, which contains much of the country’s natural resources, belongs to Guyana.