AP Photo –
VENEZUELA has criticised Caricom for supporting an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling which urges it to refrain from taking any action to seize Guyana’s Essequibo region.
The ICJ made this ruling on Friday.
In a statement issued on the same day, Caricom said the court’s order meant that Venezuela has no authority to annex Essequibo from Guyana regardless of the outcome of a referendum on this issue in Venezuela on Sunday.
“Venezuela cannot by a referendum, or otherwise, violate international law and disregard the order of the world’s highest court.”
In a statement issued on Saturday, the Venezuelan government categorically rejected Caricom’s statement.
Venezuela claimed that Caricom ignored the fact that the ICJ rejected a reckless attempt by Guyana to prevent Sunday’s referendum from taking place.
Venezuela said the referendum was called by its national assembly, in accordance with international law and “the only valid instrument to address the controversy; that is the Geneva Agreement of 1966.
Venezuela urged Caricom partner nations “to return to good judgement and objectivity.”
The statement concluded, “Venezuela’s sun rises on the Essequibo.”
In a separate statement on Saturday, the South Rupununi District Council (SRDC) declared, “We stand firmly with our fellow Guyanese people and hope that the government of Venezuela respects the sovereignty of Guyana and does not go ahead with the referendum.”
The SRDC said that as indigenous people’s of the South Rupununi, the Essequibo and the part of this region which is in dispute has always been part of the Wapchian Wiizi “since before the (European) colonisers came to the (South American) continent.”
The council added that the disputed area forms part of its cultural heritage with some of their ancestors being buried there.
Venezuela, the SRDC continued, has no historical connection to these lands.
The council clamed that Venezuela’s motivation “to annex these lands is fuelled by the fact that these lands are rich in mineral resources.”
The SRDC welcomed Friday’s ruling which “recommends that a refrain from any action that could modify the situation that currently prevails in the disputed Essequibo region.”
The council recalled there is currently a case before the ICJ in which Venezuela is challenging the Arbitral Award of 3, 1899, that gave Essequibo to Guyana.
“The ICJ in 2020 agreed to hear the case and settle the dispute. A decision is yet to be made on the case.”
By proceeding with its referendum, the council said Venezuela “is not only disregarding the Arbitral Award of 1899 but also blatantly disrespecting the ongoing procedures before the ICJ.”
On Friday, Guyana President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali said the ICJ’s ruling is an opportunity for Venezuela to join Guyana in demonstrating respect for international law and the principles that govern peaceful co-existence.”
Ali also urged all peace-loving nations to encourage Venezuela to respect the United Nations and the ICJ.