Guyana will not be bullied – President Ali
─ extends hand of friendship to Venezuela
His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali says Guyana wants to live in harmony and co-operation with all of its neighbours, including the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
At the same time, the President calls on Guyanese to stand in solidarity to protect the nation’s territorial integrity.
The Head of State made this appeal in his address at Guyana’s 55th Independence Anniversary flag raising ceremony Tuesday evening.
President Ali said Venezuela must understand that Guyana has never been interested in a quarrel.
“We hold out not a fist of war but a hand of friendship, based on respect for our borders and theirs. But we will not be cowered, nor will we be bullied.”
The President said Guyana could not recall the moment of its independence without also remembering Venezuela’s efforts to prevent it.
“As we released ourselves from the colonial cord of Britain, the Venezuelan Government sought to stifle our birth by falsely laying claim to two-thirds of our country.”
Venezuela’s claim to the Essequibo region predates independence from Britain on May 26, 1966. The 1899 Arbitral Award definitively settled the boundary between the Bolivarian Republic and British Guiana, declaring the latter’s sovereignty over the Essequibo. Venezuela accepted that decision until 1962.
“They have spent the last 55 years of the independence of all of Guyana pursuing this claim. But international law is not silent,” the President said.
Venezuela also ramped up its campaign claiming ownership of Guyana’s territory, following hydrocarbon discoveries offshore by US oil company ExxonMobil.
President Ali reiterated his confidence in the International Court of Justice to validate the finality of the Arbitral Award. The Court ruled last December that it has jurisdiction to hear the case brought by Guyana. Venezuela has rejected the Court’s jurisdiction.
President Ali said, “As one people, with one united voice, and in spirit that will not be broken, we’ll advance the validity of the 122-year-old Award that fixed our boundaries.”
He thanked Guyana’s international partners from the Caribbean, the Commonwealth and America for their support as Guyana defends sovereignty from Venezuela’s claim to its territory.