Venezuela has been engaged in saber rattling hoping to intimidate Guyana regarding its claims of Essequibo territory, one of the three counties that make up the country. The saber rattling and tough talk is more for domestic consumption than to threaten Guyana. Venezuela knows that it can’t engage in military action against Guyana; it will face crippling sanctions.
Reality as regards statements coming from the Venezuela side had become inverted (misrepresented) speaking the opposite that is factual. Incredulous, fantasy statements have been coming from Venezuela in recent weeks about Guyana’s actions and international campaign to counter Venezuela’s planned actions and PR stunt. It is an inverse of reality and facts. Venezuela has been painting an opposite picture of the actions, activities, and position of Guyana on the court case as well as on the matter itself. Guyana’s position is it is settled matter (estoppel), meaning 1898 arbitration decision stands.
Contrary to what Venezuela claims, Guyana has not been preparing for war and it has not made any military pact with the USA although Guyanese I engaged feel our country should have done so decades ago. Even if Guyana wanted (wants) to prepare for war, it couldn’t (can’t) as it lacks resources and capacity – both human (military personnel) and equipment (arms, munitions, tanks, aircrafts, etc.) to resist any Venezuelan military intrusion into Guyana’s territory. Guyana does not have armed forces or military capacity that can scare any of her neighbors, and our country has not been (never was) involved in any aggressive acts against any country. In fact, Guyana has been a victim of intimidation, bullyism, and military aggression (including incursion) at least from Venezuela’s armed forces.
Venezuela contends, without supporting evidence, that there is an agreement between Guyana and USA for American (Southern Command) armed forces to protect Exxon operations in Guyana’s waters. There is no truth to such claim. There is no such agreement although one is needed to protect foreign investments in Guyana from threats by Venezuela. If Venezuela uses force, USA or OAS could intervene if asked. Guyanese Americans have long called for a military pact with USA to protect Guyanese territory from Venezuela’s aggression. The Guyana government should consider it.
Contrary to what Venezuela asserts that Guyana has been violating international law on the border, Guyana has been abiding by international legal precedents and rulings, pursuing a peaceful resolution to the conflict, and submitting itself to the jurisdiction of the world court, ICJ. Venezuela says the ICJ has no jurisdiction on the border matter. Yet it has made submissions to the ICJ including last week. It is defying the court. Last April, the ICJ ruled it has jurisdiction to hear and adjudicate the matter. It is noted that while the ICJ is adjudicating the case, Venezuela plans to hold a referendum in order to bolster its (illegal) claim over Essequibo. No one doubts the verdict of that referendum given the campaign of inaccurate information by activists of the Venezuelan government. Venezuela takes front before front take it. It is just a matter of time that the ICJ rules in Guyana’s favor. Venezuela has not provided evidence to dispute the 1898 arbitration ruling.
Venezuela claims that Guyana has been mistreating Venezuelan refugees who have been pouring across the border into the country over the last four years, seeking opportunities not available in their home country. On the contrary, the reality is Venezuelan migrants have been living a better life in Guyana that many country folks back home and even a better life than many Guyanese. The migrants have been working (some at two jobs), earning more money than many Guyanese, and sending remittances (and food) back home to loved ones. More and more Venezuelans have been crossing the border seeking a better life in Guyana, and they have been welcomed by Guyanese. I conversed with many Venezuelan migrants over the last four years. They are pleased to be in Guyana. Not one of them ever complained about any ill-treatment. Many migrants have been provided shelter and food and hampers by Guyanese and the migrants expressed their gratitude and appreciation. NGOs have been very active helping the migrants. Guyanese Americans have funded hampers to migrants in Region 3 (West Coast and West Bank). The Guyana government itself has provided a lot of assistance to the migrants (refugees).
On responding to the active PR campaign by Venezuela domestically and regionally relating to its planned December 3 referendum over its claim of Essequibo, Guyana (government and civilians, including NGOs and students) should respond with its own robust domestic and international campaign (all foreign forums and in international media) stating Guyana’s case in order to debunk Venezuela’s myths on the border and the falsities it has painted about our response to its aggression (including the referendum).