Why did Venezuela make its unjustified Essequibo allegation in 1962?
In letters to the Editor dated September 18 and 27 and October 19 and 21 of 2020, I examined Venezuela’s unjust and imperialist assertion of the Essequibo and its coastal waters.
What is the origin of that allegation? Why was the official assertion made in 1961, 63 years after the 1899 Paris Arbitration Award confirmed that the border between Guyana and Venezuela was “complete, perfect and final”? Why wasn’t a claim made in 1920, 1930, 1940 or 1950 or any other year before 1962?
The answer is in a Confidential Memo recently released on July 12, 1962 by the then US Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, to US President John F. Kennedy. The Memo is in the National Security Archive at the Gelman Library at George Washington University in Washington, DC, USA. (See https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/briefing-book/intelligence//2020-04-06/cia-covert-operations-overthrow-weddi-jagan-british guiana-1964. It is Document 8-Secretary of State )
Dean Rusk’s Memo to John F. Kennedy outlined a “Program of Action for British Guiana” which included the following on page 25: “Contingency Plan A. Discussion” Should the program described above fail completely, then other steps that could be taken to curb or prevent communist occupation in British Guiana. Venezuelan and Brazilian claims are considered weak and neither country wants to take over the coastal belt on which Britain’s Guiana population and its problems lie. “” B. Diplomatic 1. Encourage Venezuela and possibly Brazil to pursue their territorial claims. This could lead to an indefinite delay of independence. ”
Now we have the confirmation why the USA did not take a public position in favor of or against Venezuela’s hostile action against Guyana in 1962, even though Secretary Dean Rusk considered Venezuela’s allegation to be weak.
The reason was that the Cold War was warming up between the USA and the USSR in Latin America where the rich and upper middle classes aligned in the USA were being seriously challenged by left-wing forces. In 1959, the Cuban Revolution led by Fidel Castro overthrew the U.S.-backed Batista dictatorship. In 1961, the US-backed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba was defeated. That year, Castro declared for socialism and affiliated with the Soviet Union. Then there was the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis that took the world on the brink of nuclear war between the USA and the USSR.
In Venezuela, political support for the 1959-1964 Betancourt government aligned with the USA was declining after its main partner left the coalition, and two Cuban-backed guerrilla forces had launched a revolt to overthrow its government.
Venezuela was where US companies had their largest investments in Latin America, especially in the oil and mineral sectors. In 1961, to protect US investments and to counter the growing influence of Cuba and the center-left forces in Latin America, President John F. Kennedy visited Venezuela and launched the US $ 20 billion Progress Alliance (AFP) to support land reform, to deepen democracy, develop industry and agriculture and increase people’s incomes.
It can be assumed that President Kennedy discussed with President Betancourt in Caracas the situation in British Guiana where the left leaning People’s Progressive Party (PPP) had won democratic elections in 1953, 1957 and 1961, and established close ties with Cuba. In response, the US government financed unrest in 1963 and 1963 to destabilize and overthrow the Jagan Premier government to prevent the possibility of a ‘second Cuban’ under an independent Jagan-led government. The destabilizing activities are also documented in Confidential documents recently released at the National Security Archive in Washington DC
This Rusk exposure to Kennedy should put an end to the assertion that there is a legitimate dispute or argument about the Essequibo. We need to publish this information throughout Guyana, in Venezuela and around the world.
Maduro, the Chavistas and other center-left political parties must stop the bullying tactics and follow the lead of the late President Hugo Chavez who, in 2005, 2007 and 2008, on television and radio, said the truth about the Essequibo bravely and honestly. to Venezuelan people. He explained that, in 1962, the US pressed the Venezuelan Romulo Betancourt administration to use Essequibo as a platform to destabilize Cheddi Jagan’s left-wing government. He also said that Venezuela had also been urged to demolish left-wing leader Forbes Burnham. Once, at a press conference, in Venezuela, Chavez declared, “Do you expect us to deny Guyana? When has Guyana taken the Essequibo from us? ”The 1962 Rusk Memo to Kennedy validates Chavez’s statement.
However, we Guyanese must not use this revelation as a ‘feral blow’ to publicly embarrass or challenge the US. We must follow the principle that we give respect first to respect. We understand that, at the time of the Cold War between the USA and the Soviet Union, there were fundamental differences and conflicts about how to foster human development worldwide.
Now, it is in Guyana’s best interest to expand and deepen our relationship with the USA to become better friends and allies. Guyana’s territorial / maritime integrity and sovereignty are enhanced by the recent agreements with the USA on satellite surveillance of our exclusive Economic Zone, narcotic interdiction and expanded trade and investment.
In contrast to the early 1960s, the US and Guyana build mutually beneficial relationships where the two countries commit themselves to being balanced and fair about each other’s legitimate concerns, interests and aspirations. However, we will not make or receive any type of calls that will jeopardize the protection of our Essequibo.
Thus, the coincidence of US and Guyana interests means that the US will have to persuade the US-aligned right-wing forces in Venezuela to abandon their aggressive and warlike actions to claim sovereignty over the Essequibo.
In addition to supporting the legality of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) hearings on the 1899 Arbitration Award, Guyana must prioritize with our key allies (USA, CARICOM, Brazil, European Union, Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth). they are. Aligned Movement) how the left and center right forces in Venezuela must be persuaded to abandon bullying tactics against Guyana.
Geoffrey Da Silva Former Ambassador of Guyana to Venezuela