Venezuela’s ‘gimmick of a referendum’ backfired – AG

December 3 referendum, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall on Monday said that the referendum “backfired” on the Nicolas Maduro government.

“This gimmick of a referendum backfired, it back fired,” Nandlall said.

The Attorney General made the disclosure during a symposium held by the Guyana Bar Association on Venezuela’s referendum at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre.

As he reflected on the history leading up to the border controversy with Venezuela, Nandlall said there is no evidence to invalidate the legal foundation of the 1899 Arbitral Award, which established the land boundary between the two states.

“Absolutely not a scintilla of evidence that can stand up in a court of municipal law, more so international law, has been produced to impugn, invalidate or to even shake the legal foundation of the Arbitral Award. None at all,” Nandlall said.

In fact, the Attorney General noted that international legal process will not allow Venezuela’s contention over Guyana to succeed.

“If Venezuela is to get away with this gimmick, it will bring into question, or it will allow for dozens of international disputes similarly resolved, involving borders, other international questions that have been resolved by arbitration, mediation, conciliation and other peaceful methods of resolving disputes,” he said.

Attorney Kim-Kyte Thomas

Stating that Guyana does not have the military might as that of Venezuela, Nandlall said the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) is “committed” and “ready” for the next move.

“It is my considered view that having regard to the historic role that the U.S. has played in this matter and to some extent, the British government, they cannot be officious bystanders. They cannot be in the position of the ordinary states on this issue. They have a duty, in my humbled view, to ensure that a process that they engineered and participated in is respected,” Nandlall noted.

Meanwhile, during her brief presentation on the topic, attorney Kim Kyte-Thomas said the matter can be resolved at the diplomatic level.

She believes now is the time for the international community to pressure the Venezuelan Government.

“I still have a strong belief that this matter could be resolved through diplomacy.

“I believe that the international bodies, CARICOM, they must all put pressure on the leadership of the country. Pressure needs to be placed on the leadership of the country because States have an obligation to comply with the principles of international law and what we see happening here is a State going on a folic of its own and there are dire consequences for that,” Kyte-Thomas said.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), which is presiding over the substantive border case, ruled last Friday that Venezuela shall refrain from seeking to seize control of the Essequibo.

The boundary between Guyana and Venezuela was determined by an arbitration tribunal 124 years ago, but Venezuela rejected the award in 1962, saying it was flawed. A mechanism was set up to solve the controversy and after decades of talks failed, the United Nations Secretary General referred the matter to the ICJ, which is the UN’s principal judicial organ.