With seven months to go, in a last ditch attempt to reach a mediated resolution, neighbouring Venezuela is doing all it can to stave off Guyana taking a decades-old border controversy to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
Yesterday, according to Xinhua online news, Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Delcy Rodríguez, is quoted as saying that her country has ratified the request to the United Nations to activate the machinery of the Good Officer to resolve the border dispute with Guyana.
Rodríguez announced that she held a meeting with Ambassador Dag Nylander, a personal representative of the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, at the New York headquarters.
The intention of the meeting was to reaffirm “the legitimate right” of the South American nation to about 159,543 kilometers that belong to Guyana.
Last year, outgoing UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, mediating in the controversy, committed to one last attempt to come to a compromise before Guyana approaches the ICJ.
Nylander has until December 31 to say whether he has been successful.
After then, Guyana has the option of approaching ICJ to have the matter settled once and for all.
According to the news report yesterday, Venezuela had requested that the Good Offices process be provided for in the Geneva Agreement, where Venezuela requests acceptance of the reinforcement of the Good Offices.
She also said that the dispute with the neighboring country is “a product of the greatest imperial dispossession that has occurred in the history of our continent.”
On February 17, regarding the 51st anniversary of the signing of the Geneva Accord of 1966, an instrument that establishes the peaceful settlement of the dispute, President Nicolás Maduro ratified Venezuela’s “rights” to this extension.
In March 2016, Maduro received a special UN delegation to present a formal response to the border controversy with Guyana over the Essequibo claim.
The Good Officer had visited in April.
Venezuela’s rattling of its saber took on serious tones back in May 2015 when the David Granger government took office after close elections.
It was at that time that the US-owned ExxonMobil announced a major oil find offshore Guyana.
Venezuela laid claim to the area and a huge part of Essequibo, in published maps.
Venezuela halted a major oil-for-rice deal, leaving Guyana’s rice market in a lurch.
President Granger and his administration immediately raised the issue of the aggression in
several regional forums and later in 2015 took the matter to the floors of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Outgoing Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon brought together both President Granger and the Venezuela head and it was agreed that the UN would attempt to find a way forward on the controversy.
Venezuela is facing major problems with its economy in dire straits and inflation rising to over 700 percent.
Several persons have died in violent protests in Venezuela with food lines long and basic items in short supply.
Recently, Venezuela asked for Guyana’s help in lobbying to international and other forums ensure that external interference does not happen in the country.
While Guyana has committed to assisting, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs already briefed of the situation in the neighbouring country, Minister Carl Greenidge said that this country would be unwilling to take any political sides in Venezuela.