Top Brazilian statesman chairs Venezuela/Guyana talks

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

In this 2007 file photo Venezuela Foreign minister Nicolas Maduro (left) listens to his Brazilian counterpart Celso Amorim, during a bilateral meeting at the Itamaraty Palace, in Brasilia. – AFP PHOTO

WHILE Brazil President Lula da Silva will not attend Thursday’s talks in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) between Guyanese president Dr Irfaan Ali and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, he will be represented by one of his country’s top statesmen – diplomat and former government minister Celso Amorim.

The change was disclosed by Brazilian media house O Tempo on Monday.

Also due to attend are TT’s Prime Minister (as stated by the Office of Prime Minister); SVG Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who is temporary head of CELAC; and Dominica’s Prime Minister, Caricom chairman Roosevelt Skerrit (as confirmed on Wednesday by Dominica News Online.)

Amorim is a graduate of Brazil’s diplomatic academy – the Rio Branco Institute – and did postgraduate studies at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna and the London School of Economics, said the website of the University of Salamanca, Spain, where he serves on the advisory council for global and international studies.

He was Brazil’s Minister of Foreign Relations under President Itamar Franco (1993-1994) and under Lula da Silva (2003-2010). Amorim was Minister of Defence under President Dilma Rousseff (2011-2014). After retiring from government, he became a member of several international high-level panels and commissions, said the website

Wikipedia said Amorim had been Brazil’s ambassador to the United Kingdom (2001-2002) and its permanent representative to the UN (1995-2001).

He is also a former professor of international relations at the Universidade de Brasília and was the long-time president of Embrafilme, the Brazilian Film Corporation.

Last Friday, Caricom leaders met virtually to discuss the Venezuela Guyana border controversy.

Caricom firmly supported Guyana’s pursuit of the resolution of its border controversy with Venezuela at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Reiterating its commitment to the Caribbean as a zone of peace and the maintenance of international law, Caricom called for a de-escalation of the conflict and for appropriate dialogue between the leaders of Venezuela and Guyana to ensure peaceful coexistence, the application and respect for international law and the avoidance of the use or threats of force.

Subsequently, last Saturday, Gonsalves announced the Ali/Maduro meeting due on Thursday.

However, the two sides have indicated differing expectations of the talks.

Ali, joined by former Commonwealth secretary general Sir Shridath Ramphal and the Guyanese Opposition, said the talks would not discuss the Essequibo, which Venezuela is claiming from Guyana after a recent consultative referendum. Yet a senior Venezuelan official recently told Newsday of Venezuela’s expectation that the SVG talks will see Guyana shift its position from pursuing the ICJ to adopting bilateralism under the 1966 Geneva Agreement.

Newsday has yet to obtain an agenda for the meeting.