“Acts of aggression” by Venezuela will not make Guyana cower in ongoing border controversy at ICJ

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A final settlement of the ongoing border controversy at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) between Guyana and its Spanish speaking neighbouring country, Venezuela, will continue to be pursued by the Guyanese Government despite the recent “acts of aggression” by Venezuela.

This is according to President and Commander-in-Chief of Guyana’s Armed Forces, Dr. Irfaan Ali.

In a broadcast on his Facebook page on Saturday (today) during an Address to the Nation, he reaffirmed that Guyana will not bend to any threats by Venezuela as Guyana continues to receive widespread and continuing support from the International Community.

“We will not bend to threats to national security. We may be a small country but we are a proud people. We may not have military might but we have moral and legal right. We pick fights with no one but will resist threats from anyone.”

He reminded that on January 7, this year, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro renewed claims to Guyana’s maritime territory off the Essequibo Coast, and more recently, the detainment of the two Guyanese fishing vessels and the 12-member crews.

However, according to the Guyanese Leader, “Not only do us Guyanese regard our cause as right and just but so too does the international community. We are not alone. We have the international community behind us.”

President Ali stated that on Friday evening, he received a letter from the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), António Guterres, who reaffirmed that in January 2018, he selected the ICJ as the means to be used in relation to the solution for border controversy between Guyana and Venezuela.

Guterres pointed out that such an act was possible because he was empowered to do by the agreement signed in Geneva in 1966 by all Parties.

President Ali elaborated that while the Secretary-General acknowledged that the World Court is proceeding to adjudicate the merits of the case, the role of ‘Good Offices’ was also offered so as to address other important bilateral issues that Guyana and Venezuela may wish to pursue and discuss.

Meanwhile, President Ali also reiterated that Guyana is fully committed to the “ICJ process”, which comes up for a case management hearing on February 15.

“We believe international law and independent international jurists of the highest caliber, offer the most credible and definitive way in which to put an end to the Venezuelan contention. Therefore, we will continue to pursue that course.”

Additionally, he noted that the Government of Guyana remains open minded to any engagements with Venezuela on bilateral matters in which the two (2) countries have bilateral interests.

“These would include dealing with the increasing number of Venezuelans now seeking refuge in Guyana, as well as how we might collaborate, as neighbouring states, in contending with the COVID-19 pandemic which has spared neither of our two countries. However, such discussions while welcomed, especially if the UN Secretary-General wishes to play a good offices role, will have to be preceded by a clear demonstration by Venezuela that it will desist from any further acts of aggression against Guyana, starting with the release of the Guyanese fishermen and their vessels.”

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