Venezuela, Guyana agree to suspend aggression
From Left : President of Guyana Irfaan Ali and President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro (Photo Credit: Dr Irfaan Ali X account)
Front Page
December 15, 2023
Venezuela, Guyana agree to suspend aggression

by Christina Smith

A truce, of sorts, has been reached, following marathon talks between Guyana and Venezuela and the establishment of the ‘Joint Declaration of Argyle for Dialogue and Peace between Guyana and Venezuela.’

President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro

Thursday, December 14 was an historic, and exhausting day, for officials, diplomats and media personnel who were on the ground in St Vincent and the Grenadines for discussions on the ongoing Essequibo border controversy.

The embattled leaders, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Guyanese President Irfaan Ali, sat face-to-face amongst officials from CARICOM and CELAC – the first major step toward subduing tensions which escalated significantly over the last few weeks.

The commitment toward maintaining the Caribbean as a zone of peace was laid out in the declaration which includes eleven provisions. The first “Agreed that Guyana and Venezuela, directly or indirectly, will not threaten or use force against one another in any circumstances, including those consequential to any existing controversies between the two States.”

The declaration also said that both states will refrain, “whether by words or deeds” from escalating any conflict or disagreement arising from controversy between them.

“The two States will cooperate to avoid incidents on the ground conducive to tension between them. In the event of such an incident the two States will immediately communicate with one another, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Community of Latin America and the Caribbean (CELAC), and the President of Brazil to contain, reverse and prevent its recurrence.”

President of Guyana Irfaan Ali

On the topic of Guyana’s assertion to sovereignty over the Essequibo region, the declaration says it notes that Guyana is “committed to the process and procedures of the International Court of Justice for the resolution of the border controversy”.

The document also notes Venezuela’s lack of recognition of the International Court of Justice and its jurisdiction in the border controversy.

At a preliminary media briefing chaired by President Ali earlier on Thursday, he restated, emphatically, that Guyana does not intend to budge on its position on the border controversy.

“We made it very clear that Guyana is not the aggressor. Guyana is not seeking war, but Guyana reserves the right to work with all our partners to ensure the defence of our country,” Ali told local, regional and international media.

Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley (forefront centre) arrives at the Argyle International Airport in St Vincent and the Grenadines with members of her team for the ‘Peace Talks’ between Venezuela and Guyana.

The declaration said that a meeting date will be set for the next three months in Brazil for further discussions.

Follow-ups to Thursday’s meeting also include the establishment of a joint commission of the Foreign Ministers and technical persons from the two States “to address matters as mutually agreed”.

An update from this joint commission is to be submitted to the Presidents of Guyana and Venezuela within three months.

From left: H.E. Ceiso Amorim, Special Adviser and Personal Envoy of H.E. Luiz Inåcio Lula da Silva, Presidentrof the Federative Republic of Brazil, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Rosevelt Skeritt, Prime Minister of Dominica and Mia Montley, Prime Minister of Barbados.

While the meeting ended on a positive note, the day’s proceedings were marred by logistical headaches for the media.

Leaders and officials from several CARICOM countries, as well as Brazil, Venezuela and the United Nations arrived at the Argyle International Airport within a two-hour span. Activity on the tarmac was frenzied as security officials and police tried, and failed, to bring order to the situation.