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By Zaya Williams
Antigua and Barbuda have declared their position on the escalating border dispute between Guyana and Venezuela.
The twin island stands with Guyana against Venezuela’s threat to annex its oil-rich western territory as tensions soar over their border dispute.
Governor General Sir Rodney Williams, in his Throne Speech this morning, addressed the ongoing threat posed by Venezuela to annex Guyana’s oil-rich western territory. The decades-old disagreement over their borders remains a critical issue, with the Governor General emphasizing the importance of finding a peaceful resolution to the longstanding matter.
“Guyana is our kith and kin, having a significant diaspora living in Antigua and Barbuda. Venezuela has shown its lasting friendship, coming to our government’s assistance at critical moments when no other states could. The CARICOM has issued a Statement following the ruling of the International Court of Justice. Antigua and Barbuda stand with the CARICOM,” Rodney said.
Highlighting the close ties between Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana, and Venezuela, Sir Rodney underscored the significant diaspora of Guyanese living in Antigua and Barbuda.
He also acknowledged Venezuela’s lasting friendship, which has been evident in their support during critical moments for the Antiguan and Barbudan government.
The United States has thrown its support behind Guyana in this dispute, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirming Washington’s position on Guyana’s sovereignty over its Essequibo region during a recent call with Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali.
Despite international warnings, Venezuela held a referendum on Sunday, with an overwhelming vote to annex the oil-rich Essequibo region. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro subsequently called for the creation of a “Guyana Esequiba” province, escalating tensions further.
Guyana, determined to resist the annexation threat, has placed its armed forces on high alert and sought support from regional allies, such as Brazil, which has sent troops to its northern border with Venezuela.
The dispute revolves around historical claims, with Venezuela insisting that the Essequibo River forms a natural border.
However, Guyana, of which Essequibo makes up more than two-thirds and hosts 125,000 of its 800,000 citizens, maintains administrative control over the disputed territory by an arbitration panel in 1899.