Guyana wants protection from foreign aggression

Guyana wants protection from foreign aggression
Associated Press / Richard Drew

Reaffirming his country’s commitment to international law and the primacy of the decisions of the United Nations, the President of Guyana, David Granger, on Tuesday called on the world body to stand by its commitment to protect small states from foreign aggression.

In this case, Granger told the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly Debate on Tuesday that it was attempts by Venezuela to “unravel borders which have been undisturbed for decades.”

In his maiden address to the General Assembly, the Guyanese president focused solely on his country’s long-simmering territorial dispute with neighboring Venezuela — an issue he said was actually settled 116 years ago.

“The whole world — except the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela — accepts our borders,” he declared. “For 50 years, our small country has been prevented from fully exploiting our rich natural resources.

“Venezuela has threatened and deterred investors and frustrated our economic development,” added Granger, emphasizing that Guyana’s territorial integrity is being violated by Venezuela, “which has occupied a part of our territory, the most recent incident being on Oct. 10, 2013, when it sent a naval corvette into our maritime zone and expelled a peaceful, petroleum exploration vessel which was conducting seismic surveys.”

Quoting a UN General Assembly resolution adopted some 20 years ago, Granger said that, despite such international decisions and attempts at arbitration, Venezuela had promulgated “spurious decrees” claiming Guyana’s territory, the most recent being on May 26, 2015, our independence anniversary, when Venezuela issued a decree with specified coordinates purporting to annex almost our entire maritime zone.

“That decree constituted a reassertion of its claim to five of Guyana’s 10 regions,” he said, rejecting claims by Venezuela which he said are in defiance of international law.

“Guyana resists Venezuela’s acts of aggression in defiance of the Charter of the United Nations which prescribes the peaceful settlement of disputes and proscribes the use of armed force,” Granger said.

He said Venezuela is unsettling a settled border.

“It is destabilizing a stable region of the globe by the use of armed force against a peaceful, small State,” Granger said. “Venezuela has retarded Guyana’s development by threats that are intended to force a small state to yield its birthright.”

He added that Venezuela’s expansionist ambitions cannot be allowed to unsettle the principle of inviolability of borders, undermine the tenets of international law and unravel borders which have been undisturbed for decades.

Renewing Guyana’s pledge to continue pursuing the path of peace, Granger said Guyana does not wish for Venezuela’s “obnoxious territorial claim” to obscure the prospects of peace and obstruct the possibility of growth for the next 50 years.

“We need a permanent solution in order to avoid the fate of perpetual peril and penury,” he said. “Guyana seeks a juridical settlement to this controversy.”

The Guyanese leader said his country reposes its faith and places its fate in the international system of peace that was promised by the Charter of the United Nations 70 years ago.

“We want to bring an end to Venezuelan aggression,” he said. “We want to develop our country, all of our country, in accordance with international law.”

Granger called on the UN to give “real meaning” its Assembly resolution of May 9,1994 by establishing a collective security system not merely to “monitor” but, more so, “maintain” the security of small states.