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The referendum passed Sunday by Venezuela, to seize the Essequibo territory and exploit its resources should not be trivialized nor dismissed, irrespective of the voter turnout and that country’s internal political conflict. Not when Venezuela is demonstrating geo-political presumptuousness, seeking to misuse a legal process to legitimise an illegitimate and greedy claim in the eyes of Venezuelan citizens misled to believe three-quarters of the richest territory of Guyana belongs to them.
In light of Venezuela’s desperation and the new developments taking place, whereby Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has issued presidential orders permitting Venezuelan economic activities on Guyana’s sovereign lands, the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) is calling on the Government of Guyana to meaningfully work with the Opposition and all stakeholders as a matter of urgency.
Government has the principal responsibility to protect and defend this nation from threats, internal and external, and must be seen as constantly addressing every iota of Venezuela’s threat, whilst still remaining proactive on the world stage to ensure a peaceful resolution. It is not lost on the GTUC that Guyana under the PPP/C administration is at its weakest diplomatically with resounding erosion of our once high motivation for nationalism and protection of Guyana’s national interest.
The present political environment created by the PPP/C after years of political disruptions, sowing seeds of mistrust and fostering the marginalisation of almost half of the population, most of whom make up our military forces has placed Guyana in a place of great disadvantage for a country divided presents the perfect conditions for greedy and aggressive neighbours with superior military strength.
Guyana is fortunate so far that despite the draconian and corrupt rule of Bharat Jagdeo and the Jagdeo/Ali regime, despite the social, economic, and political decay and injustices meted out against the people of Guyana, despite citizens experiencing daily growing fear of its own government and see the erosion of rights, freedom of speech and the rule of law that the average Guyanese is still prepared to say to Venezuela.
GTUC hears the concerns of all Guyanese citizens and calls on this government to stop following its old playbook that continues to sow seeds of hate and disunity that have brought us to where we are – unable to adequately oversee our borders, feel safe and protected under our government and united in defense under Venezuela’s newest treat of economic invasion which can result in military aggression.
GTUC therefore calls on our political Opposition and agencies of economic interest to be real in recognising that Guyana’s best option to repel Venezuela in the short term is through diplomatic talk and sanctions from the international community and adjudication through the ICJ Venezuela must respect Guyana Borders and the ruling of the ICJ. A potential warfare between Guyana and Venezuela, even border squirmish would not serve our best interest without the support of matching or more powerful military forces, equipment, and technology to aid in surveillance of our borders. We need a unified Guyana to raise its voice and call for sanctions against Venezuela immediately, lest Maduro takes our silence for surrender.
Even as we do so, the PPPC is called upon not to send our military into any reckless excursions given their lack of adequate capital investment and sophisticated equipment to ensure the relative safety of our troops. Guyanese military whilst trained and willing to serve their country must not see the exploitation of this national commitment being mission impossible and therefore a death sentence for not even one of our soldiers.
Maduro’s words must be taken seriously as Venezuela’s willingness and direct means to start warfare with Guyana. The Opposition must not wait but must make every effort to help give direction to how we as a nation meet this new challenge without sending our marginalised, oppressed and victimised citizens to the slaughter.