Editorial Staff
2 months ago

Editorial Staff
2 months ago

Regional leaders arriving as SVG prepares for Guyana-Venezuela talks

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Later today, several Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders will be arriving in St Vincent and the Grenadines for talks between Presidents Irfaan Ali and Nicolas Maduro about the long-standing border dispute between Guyana and Venezuela.

The meeting is being hosted by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.

The leaders of St Lucia, Grenada, the Bahamas, and Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit are expected to be present along with the CARICOM chairman.

Prime Ministers Dr Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago and Mia Mottley of Barbados will be arriving tomorrow morning.

Additionally, a personal envoy from President Lula of the Federal Republic of Brazil, Celso Amorim, who has served 10 years as a foreign minister and five years as minister of defence, is expected to attend.

Two diplomats from the United Nations Secretary General’s office will also be arriving on Wednesday night, as Antonio Gutierrez, the UN Secretary General, couldn’t make it.

A Venezuelan contingent has already arrived, and an advanced party from Guyana is due later today.

The meeting here is being held under the auspices of CELAC and CARICOM. Prime Minister Gonsalves emphasized that St Vincent and Grenadines are “facilitating” and not acting as a “mediator” during the talks.

However, as an interlocutor, he wants to assist in a resolution of matters consequential to the border dispute.

Gonsalves believes that talking without prejudice is valuable and that there are many things for the leaders to discuss regarding the border controversy that has been ongoing for over 100 years.

Last Sunday, Venezuela staged a referendum in which it announced that 95% of the votes cast were in support of the annexation of the Essequibo region.

President Maduro announced soon afterward that foreign companies working in Essequibo would have to withdraw within three months.

He also proposed a special law to prohibit all companies that work under Guyana concessions from any transaction and that Caracas would be creating a military unit for the disputed territory based in a neighboring Venezuelan state.

However, prior to the referendum, the ICJ had ruled that Venezuela must not take any action to seize Essequibo, which has been administered by Guyana for over a century.

The Essequibo makes up about two-thirds of Guyanese territory and is home to 125,000 of the country’s 800,000 citizens, but is also claimed by Venezuela.

Despite the critical divide between the two countries, Gonsalves believes that there are lots of things for them to talk about consequential to the border controversy.

He hopes that the meeting will result in a lessening of tensions, a lessening of virulent language, and a de-escalation of the situation.

Gonsalves has had to remain “tight-lipped” about the possible outcome of the meeting, so as not to speculate or cause any undue influence on the discussions.

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