United front vital to success in Guyana/Venezuela border controversy

– Border Advisor Greenidge

Advisor on Borders in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr. Carl Greenidge says Guyana’s political leaders must stand in solidarity in the face of Venezuela’s claims to some two-thirds of the country’s territory.

Mr. Greenidge said a unified approach is necessary if Guyana’s case is to succeed at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as “divisions pose a threat to national sovereignty.” The Border Advisor made this statement during a virtual public discourse on the matter Tuesday evening.  

Advisor on Borders of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr. Carl Greenidge.

Mr. Greenidge’s appeal followed on the heels President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali’s engagement earlier on Tuesday with former Presidents.

The meeting discussed Guyana’s sovereignty, among other key national issues. Former President Mr. David Granger had declined the invitation to the open meeting, which will be held quarterly.  President Ali has said Mr. Granger can still utilise his invitation.

Even in opposition the PPP/C had taken a united approach on Guyana’s border matter and had supported the efforts of the former administration in this endeavour.

Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, in his role as Opposition Leader had pledged support to the APNU+AFC Government on the border controversy.

“We, in the PPP, would be supportive. We have a national position on this matter, and this will not change,” he had said, on the final day of Budget debates in the National Assembly in 2017. 

Additionally, President Ali, following yesterday’s meeting with the former Presidents, again extended an olive branch to Mr. Granger.

“We are hoping that former President Granger would understand the necessity in attending the meeting and being a part of it,” President Ali said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Greenidge said if the ICJ rules in Guyana’s favour on Friday, that it has jurisdiction over the matter, Guyana then needs to make its case on the substantive matter. Guyana holds firm to the position that the 1899 Arbitral Award which determined the boundaries between the two countries is final and not null and void as Venezuela contends.

However, he emphasised that Guyana’s leaders must put on a united front.

“One of the things that our neighbours capitalise on is perceived division between the political parties and to the extent that they perceive such a decision, you will see them trying mosey up to one and decry the other or vice versa,” Mr. Greenidge said.

He added: “What has to happen is the political parties have to recognise that division poses a threat to national sovereignty more than anything else and therefore one would expect that the political parties can ensure that there is no light between the two of them on this matter of Guyana’s sovereignty and its sovereignty over the Essequibo.”

Guyana presented its case to the ICJ on June 30, 2020 where it was represented by a high-level team led by Sir Shridath Ramphal. Mr. Greenidge is also a representative in the matter.

Sir Shridath in his presentation contended that the ICJ unquestionably has jurisdiction to hear the case and adjudicate Guyana’s claims that the validity of the boundary between the two countries has been permanently fixed since 1899. Venezuela had accepted the settled border until 1962 when it unilaterally decided that the Award was null and void, thereby triggering the controversy which has wound its way to this point before the ICJ.