Last updated Wednesday, 27 January 2021, 16:14 by Denis Chabrol
Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the American Provinces Organization (OAS), Ambassador Riyad Insane on Wednesday slammed an opposition-aligned Venezuela special representative to that Western Hemispheric body, Gustavo Tarre Briceño on Guyana’s sovereign rights to the Essequibo Region and space Atlantic marine.
“Mr. Tarre seems to be taking the side of Maduro’s belligerent regime, suggesting the same threats to our territory and maritime area to which we are subjected to Caracas. This attitude is more than ironic. It is completely erroneous and utterly insulting. “Said Dr Insane in a sharp reprimand.
In delivering comments to the Permanent Council on Wednesday, Mr Tarre Briceño sought to justify the military action. Despite the interception of Guyanese fishing vessels and 11 crew members on January 21, 2021 by Venezuela’s Lynges under what he called Maduro’s “usurper”, the special representative insisted that Essequibo belonged to Venezuela. “The steps taken by the Maduro usher, which led to this debate, I do not believe that anyone would nevertheless deny the lawful exercise of a country’s sovereignty as long as it does not affect other states which we should recognize , under international law, Venezuela’s right to defend its community territory for the maritime region, ”he said.
A Venezuelan special representative noted that Mr. Maduro had been discredited and that the country was in economic crisis. Through him, the opposition led by Guaido seemed to echo the view from the Maduro administration that the Geneva Treaty provided the opportunity to settle the border debate bilaterally. He argued that the Secretary-General of the United Nations should have sought agreement from Guyana and Venezuela before referring the matter to the ICJ only after mediation and conciliation. “All parties should offer their prior consent before the ICJ takes such a case. Now, this has been repeated on numerous occasions. It cannot be acceptable that only one party brings a case like this to an organization; that’s why no government in Venezuela can recognize the court’s ruling or the court’s jurisdiction to resolve this border or any territorial issues on the border so Venezuela nonetheless has strong arguments at the merits stage to present its case, ”said Tarre Briceño.
He said the ICJ process was not a viable solution and therefore reiterated his call for Guyana to agree to find a satisfactory solution to the debate.
But Guyana’s Permanent Representative stressed his country’s adherence to international law and described as “regrets” the views taken by the Maduro government and the Guaido-led opposition. Noting that Guyana gave asylum and succor to tens of thousands of Venezuelans as a humanitarian gesture, Guyana would not tolerate Venezuela trampling on its country’s sovereignty and violating international law. He further flashed a Venezuelan special representative, saying he is not speaking on behalf of the Venezuela government. “Mr. Tarre does not speak for a sovereign State. The entity it represents does not control any sovereign over the Province of Venezuela. Indeed, his organization cannot even pay its quota obligation to our cash institution’s budget even as long-standing loyal employees lose their jobs. I do not know the basis on which Mr Tarre speaks but he should have known better before speaking on a matter of great importance to Guyana, a sovereign State and a full member of this organization, ”said Dr. Insanally.
Nicolas Maduro’s administration from Venezuela in April, 2020 withdrew from the OAS, saying that the United States is using that organization to intervene in its internal affairs in the fields of democracy, governance, and human rights. The OAS went on to approve Mr Tarre Briceño, who is associated with the opposition led by Juan Guaido, as Venezuela’s special representative to the OAS. When Mr. Tarre Briceño was voted to be the special representative, Guyana had been among six abstentions. Dr. Insanally on Wednesday that Guyana’s decision not to support Mr Tarre Briceño was justified.
Mr Tarre Briceño described the process towards the 1899 Arbitration Tribunal as “inconsistent” and there were no Venezuelan judges present at the hearing. He added that Venezuela had no way of defending itself from the British Empire and had asked the United States for assistance. He said Venezuela’s “territory was taken from”.
But Guyana’s Permanent Representative called Mr Tarre Briceño’s historical account “distorted” and amounted to a “troubling” rejection of the ICJ’s historic role also known as the World Court. “What more peaceful and legally binding settlement can there be, part of turning to the International Court of Justice, our highest and most respected global court ?,” he asked rhetorically.
At the Permanent Council, the US representative condemned the seizure of the fishing boats and called for their immediate release. He welcomed the ICJ’s ruling on jurisdiction and “we will continue to follow this case closely.”
Brazil, which has historically supported Guyana on the grounds that it would never agree to a border change, said through its OAS Representative that it respected the principle of territorial integrity within the framework of international law, and reiterated its expectation that the dispute would be resolved territorially peaceful.
The OAS earlier noted Wednesday that the fishing vessels were in Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone and called for the release of the fishermen and vessels.
That organization also cautioned Venezuela from taking unilateral actions that manifestly violate international law. Earlier this month, Venezuela unilaterally extended its maritime border to include all maritime space off the coast of the Essequibo Region.
Next month the ICJ will hold a case management conference essentially scheduling written submissions and oral arguments before presenting a final and binding decision. The ICJ has already noted that even if a country refuses to participate in the case, the decision is still binding on the parties.