Rattling sabers on the western border – Guyana Times
It is said that all politics is local and that the latest rattling saber by a Venezuelan strongman, Maduro, over their controversial debate on our 1899 fixed Essequibo border, only shows that compassion. In the face of an economic collapse of disastrous proportions that have witnessed five million citizens fleeing the country; inflation reaching 4000 percent food, fuel and medicine shortages forcing people to plunder litter bins to survive, Maduro needs to be distracted. It created the means after the December 2020 Legislative Elections, which boycotted the Guaidó-led Opposition because the Elections Commission was unilaterally reconstituted. Maduro Socialist Party and its allies won 67 percent of the 31 percent of registered voters who bothered to vote. He now controlled the Legislature to accompany the army, the Judiciary and the Executive. But he knew that this was all built on sand because the majority of people, who were only held in power, lacked authenticity. The other variable in his calculus for maintaining power was that his béte noir, Donald Trump and the Republicans had just lost their elections on November 3rd. He seems to think that Joe Biden’s new Democratic Administration will be less inconceivable to his undemocratic credentials and can be challenged. He also reckons he can challenge the new People’s Progressive Party (PPP) regime at a time when the Leader of the Opposition A Partnership for National Unity / Alliance for Change (APNU / AFC) has refused to accept his legitimacy. As such, last Thursday, Maduro announced, “I signed the decree for the establishment of the Territory for the Development of the Atlantic Front in the Bolivian Republic of Venezuela, which becomes part of the legal, diplomatic and political acts for protect our rights for more than 200 years. “The Atlantic Facade” is the Essequibo Coast, where Guyana has rights to the surrounding Atlantic Ocean, and not coincidentally, its huge oil fields are now being developed by Exxon. He also convened his hand-picked Assembly and established a Special Committee to “protect” the Essequibo Region, which was finally awarded to us in the 1899 Arbitration Award. He insisted, “It’s ours; it belongs to the Venezuelans and we’re going to conquer it in peace, in national unity, we’re going to achieve it. ” The Assembly overturned the ICJ’s decision in December 2020 specifically that it had the requisite jurisdiction to pronounce on the validity of the 1899 Arbitration Award, in accordance with the Venezuela agreement in the Geneva Agreement of 1966. Maduro wrote the UN Secretary General asking the latter to call on its “good office” again to facilitate bilateral negotiations between Guyana and Venezuela who were “exhausted” after 50 years. Maduro clearly follows in the footsteps of so many of his predecessors in trying to use the Essequibo border debate that they gathered in 1962 to divert domestic attention from their internal challenges that tear their separate national fabric. It hopes to elicit a nationalist response against Guyana and the United States, home of Exxon, with which Venezuela has a long-standing feudal. In a broadcast to the nation, President Irfaan Ali gave a pellucid statement from a Guyana perspective. Highlighting Venezuela’s violation of “at least two basic principles of international law”, both of which under the ICJ explanation, Dr Ali unequivocally declared, “Guyana completely rejects the decree issued by President Maduro . ” He explained, “Venezuela’s attempt to claim for itself the seas and seabed off the coast west of the Essequibo River is another legal void, which will receive no legal attention from any other State in the world , including Guyana. ” The President also instructed his Minister of Foreign Affairs and Consulate Guyana in Venezuela to convey, respectively, to the Venezuelan Ambassador and Venezuelan Government, Guyana’s point of view, which he has not departed from since 1962. We seek friendly relations, but “ not a blade of grass ”.