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Opposition Leader Godwin Friday in an October 2023 photo.
Opposition Leader Godwin Friday in an October 2023 photo.
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The main opposition New Democratic Party has expressed its support for Guyana amidst the ongoing border conflict in which Venezuela is claiming the Essequibo, which is two thirds of Guyana’s landmass and home to one fifth of its population.

“… first of all, this is a very serious regional problem. This is not something that we can take lightly,” Opposition Leader Godwin Friday said on his weekly radio programme on Monday.

“This is a very serious situation and it has become more and more urgent because of the various actions that have been taken by the government of Maduro in Venezuela.”

Friday noted that the matter is awaiting adjudication before the International Court of Justice, which has ruled that it has jurisdiction to settle the conflict.

He further noted the 1899 arbitral award on the borders, adding, “And this is something that had been settled.

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“But now it has arisen and the international community has urged the use of the legal process that is established to have this matter resolved in accordance with international law and practice.”

Guyana’s president, Irfaan Ali has said that his government will take the border issue to the United Nations (UN), after “unsettling developments” in relation to the “unlawful claim by Caracas to the mineral rich Essequibo region in Guyana”.

Ali said that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday night “announced several measures which his government intends to take in enforcing the outcome of the referendum held on December 3, 2023”.

On Sunday, about 10.5 million Venezuelans, just over half of the 20.6 million eligible voters, cast ballots in a referendum on whether Caracas should claim sovereignty over Essequibo.

Friday said:

“You can’t unilaterally just have a referendum and say, well, listen, we want two-thirds of any country and that if your people vote for it, then it becomes yours. I mean, if that were the case, you’d have chaos, you won’t have any rule of law, it’d just be the powerful and the mighty, will reign supreme.”

Friday, a lawyer, supported the position of CARICOM, which is headquartered in the Guyanese capital.

“So the position that CARICOM has adopted, is one that says that the international process, legal process must be followed, that the territorial integrity of Guyana basically is intact and that the ruling that was made by the International Court of Justice … to say that until the matter is resolved, in its totality, that the matter is litigated, and they make a final ruling, that the situation should remain as is — the status quo shall be maintained and there can’t be any unilateral annexation of any part of Guyana,” the opposition leader said.

“That is a position that the international community supports, a position that the New Democratic Party supports and one that we proclaim. That is the process that needs to be followed by the parties involved.”

He noted that Guyana has established over the years its willingness to submit to that process.

“But it takes two to tango. “And so, of course, we urge the parties to let that process play out…” Friday said

The opposition leader said the matter should be resolved through the judicial process. 

“That’s how good, civilised countries nowadays in the world are urged to behave. There’s a rule of law, there’s international law, there’s domestic law. Let that apply. And then that will provide a more lasting solution and one that will avoid violence.”

The opposition leader noted that oil was discovered in Guyana about a decade ago.

“And so, it has become really a potentially transformative economic situation for them,” he said, noting that the CARICOM nation had auctioned more blocks to oil companies for the extraction of oil.

“Unfortunately, since that discovery, the tensions have grown and Venezuela has urged its claim more insistently over the past several years,” Friday said.

“…  as friends of countries in the region, the Venezuelan people, the people of Guyana, I’m sure that nobody wants this matter to deteriorate into a terrible conflagration. Let’s hope that that is not the case,” the opposition leader said.

“And there is now hope that the process will go through the legal process and CARICOM has adopted this position in support of Guyana’s position and the international community, the vast majority of the countries seem to be in favour of that as well. And we urge the parties to follow that process and to have this international law in a peaceful way.”

One reply on “Venezuela-Guyana border conflict ‘a very serious regional problem,’ Friday says”

  1. Greedy and incompetent ex-bus driver Maduro has mashed up his own country’s oil industry and everything else, causing the biggest flight of refugees in the history of the Western Hemisphere, so now wants all this new oil that has legally belonged to Guyana for over 100 years based on the treaty Friday references.

    Maduro has already said he doesn’t give a damn what the International Court of Justice in The Hague has said. He also lots of arms and a big military force while Guyana only had a small police force and no military equipment.

    Only the Americans can stop him from invading Guyana and ethnically cleansing the entire Essequibo region.

    Because we are so addicted to cheap oil and other help from the wicked Maduro regime, our government headed by one of Maduro’s best friends will stand on the sidelines silently looking on if or when this takeover occurs.

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