‘Our nation stands united to maintain our territorial integrity’
−Minister Sukhai tells Baramita, Mathews Ridge residents
Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Hon. Pauline Sukhai said the people of Guyana stand united to maintain the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity against neighbouring Venezuela.
Minister Sukhai was speaking to the residents of Baramita and Matthews Ridge, Barima-Waini (Region One) on Wednesday, during an outreach on the Guyana/Venezuela border controversy.
The first stop was at Baramita village, one of the largest Amerindian settlements in Guyana with a population of close to 4,000 persons. The community is located about 20 miles west of Matthews Ridge.
Minister Sukhai iterated to the residents, whose first language is Carib, that Guyana is a nation of six ethnic groups, and therefore, the national motto “One People, One Nation, One Destiny” must be the people’s mantra as the country confronts the decades-old matter.
“I want to highlight and underscore that need for us to be in unity on this matter and therefore, we must support the position of our government…because as a nation, we have to secure our independence. We have to secure the future for our children and we also have to secure our future as a nation,” she said.
Minister Sukhai updated residents of frontline villages on the controversy between Guyana and Venezuela and the Government’s diplomatic position of deferring to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
“We must ensure that we educate ourselves on the matter so that we can also share and inform our young people, our family, our friends on the truth of this matter and we must stand together as a nation to continue to fight for and protect the sovereignty of our country,” she added.
Moderator of the interactive session, Major General (ret’d) Joseph Singh said Baramita and Matthews Ridge are very important frontline areas because of their geographic location. He advised that residents need not be paranoid on the controversy or encourage complacency.
Venezuela, since 1962 has contended that the 1899 Arbitral Award, which definitively settled the land boundary between the two countries, was null and void. The country continues to claim the Essequibo region.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry’s Director of Frontiers, Ms. Donnette Streete provided a historical overview of the controversy. She said Venezuela has never been able to provide any evidence of its claims, and as such, the country is confident that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) will find that the 1899 Award is valid, and Essequibo belongs to Guyana.
On January 30, 2018, the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon issued a decision choosing the ICJ as the means to be used for the solution of the controversy. Following that decision, on March 29, 2018, Guyana filed its application instituting proceedings against Venezuela regarding the legal validity and binding effect of the October 3, 1899 Award which determined the land boundary between British Guiana and Venezuela.
On December 18, 2020, the Court ruled it had jurisdiction to entertain Guyana’s application. The ICJ has fixed a time limit of March 8, 2022, for the submission of Guyana’s Memorial on the merits of the case and March 8, 2023, for the submission by Venezuela of its Counter-Memorial.