the World Court ruled that the Essequibo region, rich in gold, diamonds and oil reserves off its coast, has been governed by Guyana for the past 124 years and Venezuela “shall” refrain from any action that would “modify” or change this.
Venezuela set its referendum for Sunday and Guyana fears it would lead the Spanish-speaking country to annex the Essequibo region and to grant Venezuelan citizenship to its inhabitants, causing irreparable harm to Guyana’s rights.
That’s why Guyana moved to the Court for “provisional measures” or protection before the Court issues a final judgement on the substantive border case.
The Court agreed with Guyana and ruled this way: “Pending a final decision in the case, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela shall refrain from taking any action which would modify the situation that currently prevails in the territory in dispute, whereby the Co-operative Republic of Guyana administers and exercises control over that area.”
Following the ruling, the international community swiftly issued statements calling for the Court’s order to be respected.
Venezuela, from statements issued by government officials, is nonetheless pressing ahead with its referendum.
President Ali, during his address to the nation, reminded Venezuela that the international community is on Guyana’s side and the move to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for a final, binding settlement is well-supported.
So, he urged Venezuelan leaders against any action that runs “afoul” of international law. Dr. Ali also pointed out that come what may, Guyana and Venezuela will remain neighbours based on their geographical location.
Any untoward action, therefore, wouldn’t augur well for good neighbourly relations.
“We are your neighbours and we are taught to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. Long after this controversy, we have to live as neighbours,” he said.
Aside from speaking directly to Venezuelans, the President reassured Guyanese of Guyana’s resounding support around the world. He also said all efforts are being pursued to guarantee that the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty remain intact, noting that those in Guyana’s armed forces have been working above and beyond.
“…We are working around the clock to ensure our borders remain intact and the people and our countries remain safe,” he said.
The President added, “Challenges bring out the best in people and I am very proud in how we, as Guyanese, handled this challenge.”
After respecting the boundary established by the 1899 Arbitral Award for decades, Venezuela in 1962 rejected the award and a process was set in motion to resolve its claim. Talks between the countries over several decades failed to arrive at a solution and the United Nations Secretary-General referred the matter to the World Court.
Guyana filed its case and it is still before the Court; it hopes that the Court would reaffirm the 1899 Award and prove, once and for all, that the Essequibo region belongs to Guyana and not Venezuela.