Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
We have suffered greatly since this 1960’s attitude and approach of Venezuela. When we gained Independence, Venezuela under President Leone placed an advertisement in the Times newspaper of London in June 15, 1968, to the effect that Essequibo belonged to Venezuela, and that it will not recognize economic concessions that were to be granted by the Government of Guyana at that time.
Again, the same President Leone issued a Decree 1152 of July 9th, 1968, purporting to annex a nine-mile-wide belt of sea space along Guyana’s entire Essequibo coast. And that was, as I said, July 1968.
I remember, as a member of the PPP then, in 2000, Beale Aerospace came here. And another big reversal in investment happened when President Rafael Chavez issued a blunt rejection of the agreement between Guyana’s government and Beale Aerospace Corporation of the United States to establish a satellite launch facility in the Wani.
I remember the same day that we were supposed to inaugurate our Brigadier General, as the ninth President, Arthur Granger, and on our 49th Anniversary of Independence, the President of Venezuela, then made Decree number 1787, stating that that entire coastal plain on the Essequibo there, and even coming almost close to Demerara, saying they own everything from Continental Shelf, to Exclusive Economic Zone, and all the resources there in them.
On the day after that elections, a couple days after the 2015 elections, when President Granger was supposed to be sworn in, and on the 49th Anniversary of our Independence! Decree 1787!
But of course, we went ahead, knowing the geopolitical value of an oil Agreement, knowing that they have found oil, with Exxon. And not only Exxon, it included a Chinese company, CNOOC. Today we understand, too, that Chevron has bought the shares over of the third company, Hess. And so we have two very large American companies there.
But we had all the time did the acts akin to ‘eminent domain’, meaning acts of sovereignty over Essequibo. Venezuela was well aware of those acts.
We, in 1977, enacted the Maritime Boundaries Act, on June 30th.
We also, November 10th, 1993, endorsed Guyana’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
And we, of course, later on, as is stated so meticulously in this book written by David Arthur Granger, that saw, indeed, the 60th instrument of ratification, November 16th, 1993, enabling the Convention to enter into force here a year later.Guyana also took steps towards the consolidation of sovereignty over its marine resources with the introduction of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Act of 1986. That became the law in June 1986. And licenses were issued under the Act in 1999, of course, to Exxon.
And we have also done all that which makes it very clear that Essequibo belongs to us by entering fishing agreements. So many other acts of sovereignty, like bilateral fishing agreements, allowing foreign vessels to fish in Guyana’s waters.
And I want to say with all these activities we did that was to ensure that we can get the benefit of that largesse out there. We must appreciate that indeed it is our land and nobody else’s. Not a blade of grass!
We may have the situation where they are going to do some saber-rattling. We are not going to give up. Guyanese all across this country, in the Diaspora, and we have got a wide Diaspora. I understand we got some people in Alaska. We are very, very clear and united on this issue.
We must ensure that this bonanza that is Essequibo, that is ours, be exploited, and we must not have confrontation from our western neighbor to any extent. We must see, also, the flourishing of Guyana because the space must be allowed for investments without any intervention from any dominant big player called Venezuela.
Excerpt from Alliance For Change Leader and Member of Parliament, attorney-at- Law Khemraj Ramjattan’s contribution to the Extraordinary Sitting of the National Assembly. Nov. 6, 2023