News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Mon. Oct. 5, 2015: Dozens of Guyanese from in and around Washington DC braved a cold drizzle on Saturday, October 3rd to protest neighboring Venezuela’s claim to two-thirds of their country on the anniversary of the arbitral award which settled their border in 1899.
Guyanese citizens bore placards outside the Venezuelan Embassy denouncing what they termed Venezuela’s aggression and called for the matter to be referred to the International Court of Justice, echoing a similar call made by Guyana’s President David Granger at the United Nations last week.
The Government of Guyana alleged earlier that Venezuela had mobilized military equipment and dispatched its army into Guyana’s territory last week following a resurgence of the fifty-year old territorial claim. In May Venezuela issued a decree purporting to annex Guyana’s maritime Exclusive Economic Zone after a substantial petroleum discovery was announced by Exxon Mobil.
The 1899 Paris arbitration was accepted as a full, final and perfect settlement by Venezuela and Great Britain, the colonial authority for the then British Guiana, until Venezuela rejected the award in 1962. The parties then signed an agreement in 1966 to examine Venezuela’s contention that the award was null and void but have since failed to make progress in resolving the issue.
The recent flare up of the controversy has galvanized Guyanese residing overseas to demonstrate against Venezuela. For over four hours placard bearing protesters in Washington DC carried signs marking the anniversary of the 1899 award, condemning Venezuelan aggression and labeling the territorial claim unjust.
From the picket line Cornel Ferdinand, a former broadcaster in Guyana and longtime resident of Maryland said, “Why does Venezuela not wish to take this matter to the World Court? Guyanese are just fed up with this never ending claim. If Venezuela has a valid claim, let us take it to court.”
Another protester, Janice Vieira, who has business interests both in Washington DC and in Guyana condemned Venezuela’s policy of scaring away investors from Guyana. She told reporters, “Guyana’s development is being held hostage to Venezuela’s claim. We must be rid of this burden so we can develop our country.”
The sizeable group filed past the Venezuelan Embassy silently with banners aloft and with patriotic music blaring under the watchful eyes of Venezuelan officials.
The United Nations is seeking ways of permanently resolving the border controversy between the South American nations of Guyana and Venezuela, the UN Secretary General’s office has revealed. United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon brokered talks last week between Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro and President of Guyana, David Granger in New York.
The talks got as far as an agreement to accredit Cheryl Miles asGuyana’s Ambassador to Caracas while Venezuela said it will return Ambassador Reina Margarita Arratia Diaz to Georgetown.