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… says Guyana looks forward the upholding of its territorial integrity by international law
On the eve of Independence Day, President Irfaan Ali reminded the citizenry that Guyana does not hold animosity against Venezuela but will not cower at any attempts of the neighbouring country to claim portions of Guyana as its own.
The most recent threat to Guyana by the neighbouring Spanish-speaking country was the incursion into Guyana’s airspace in March 2021 which resulted in the issuance of a protest note. This is even as Venezuela denied that it invaded Guyana’s airspace stating that it was conducting regular patrol operations at its borders.
Before then, in February 2021, Venezuela released 12 Guyanese fishermen who were detained for almost two weeks along with their vessels – Lady Nayera and the Sea Wolf – after the Venezuelan Government claimed the men were found within its territorial waters.
At Guyana’s 55th Independence Flag Raising Ceremony on Tuesday, President Ali said that though Guyanese hold the celebration to remind themselves of the nation’s rise out of a history of oppression, subjugation and exploitation, there are still lingering threats today.
“My brothers and sisters, we cannot recall the moment of Guyana’s Independence without also remembering the efforts of Venezuela to prevent it. As we released ourselves from the colonial cord of Britain, the Venezuelan government sought to stifle our birth by falsely laying claim to two-thirds of our country. They have spent the last 55 years of the Independence of all of Guyana pursuing this claim—but international law is not silent,” he said.
The President pointed to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which is expected to determine the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award, in keeping with a recommendation by the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres.
President Ali said that he is confident that the voice of international law will be heard, and justice will be determined. Even so, he said that Guyana seeks no altercation with Venezuela but will not allow its territorial integrity to be challenged.
The President said: “The Venezuelans must understand that we sought no quarrel with them, and we do not do so now. Our only wish is to live in harmony and cooperation with all our neighbours. We hold out not a fist of war but a hand of friendship, based on respect for our borders and theirs. But we will not be cowered, nor will we be bullied.”
President Ali also thanked the countries from the Caribbean, the Commonwealth, the Americas and beyond that have supported Guyana throughout.