‘Referendum is maneuver to distract from Venezuela’s failures’ – says ex-Venezuelan Minister

See below full statement from former Venezuelan Minister Sadio Garavini di Turno:

The referendum that the Maduro government has decided to call on the Essequibo claim is not only useless, but harmful to the interests of Venezuela. Of the five questions presented to the electorate, two are absolutely inconsequential and are equivalent to the question: “Do you love your Mom?” In the question in which the people are asked if they support the 1966 Geneva Agreement, as the only instrument to resolve the controversy, the regime forgets to mention that we are in the process of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), because two UN Secretaries-General, the last “good officiant-mediator”  and the ICJ itself, interpreted the Geneva Agreement in such a way that the UN Secretary-General had the competence to bring the case to the ICJ. Where it is asked whether one agrees not to recognize the jurisdiction of the ICJ to resolve the controversy, there is a clear intention to use the probable affirmative answer to get out of the process initiated in the ICJ, in which Venezuela has already accepted the jurisdiction of the Court, by participating in it. In the regime, the sector that maintains that an “anti-imperialist” ideological “narrative” must be assumed and the government of Guyana and the ICJ itself must be accused of being puppets of EXXON. Forgetting, “curiously”, that EXXON’s partners in Guyana are the Chinese State Oil Company (CNOOC) and CHEVRON, which operates in Venezuela.

This position is extremely irresponsible, as well as not very serious. The Court, with or without the presence of Venezuela, would follow the process and in a few years would issue its ruling, which is mandatory and unappealable. Furthermore, we must not forget that, after the decision on the 1899 Award and the definition of the land border, it is very likely that the ICJ will also have to intervene in the delimitation of marine and underwater areas.

In the last question, the possibility of creating a new Venezuelan state is raised, in the disputed territory, incorporating it into the map of Venezuela and preparing an accelerated plan to grant citizenship and all the “services” of the Venezuelan State to the Essequibans. This is an unreal question, which has also given the basis for Guyana and all the CARICOM countries to denounce to the international community that Venezuela intends to militarily occupy the region.

It is unreal, among other things, because it is ridiculous to think that the Essequibans, who live in the world’s fastest growing economy, could be interested in the citizenship of a country in the midst of a socioeconomic disaster and from which, in just a few years, more than 7 million inhabitants, 35,000 of which in Guyana itself. To make matters worse, the Foreign Ministry, after calling this referendum, in a very unserious official statement, after stating that the Guyanese government is a puppet of EXXON and the US Southern Command, asks that same government to sit down to negotiate. bilaterally.

In my opinion, the referendum is a maneuver to distract public attention from the enormous socioeconomic failure, in view of the announced 2024 elections, by raising the nationalist flag. Furthermore, it is also about forgetting the irresponsible and very unprofessional handling of the controversy, during these two decades, which has led us to the ICJ, the scenario preferred by Guyana since 1966.

Now, the responsible thing is to prepare ourselves with the support of the best national and international experts, to defend at the ICJ, our position that the 1899 award is null. Being done?