Language barriers, lack of established cordons and no clear communication on operational procedures for media officials contributed to the chaos on the tarmac at the Argyle International Airport (AIA) this morning.
The situation escalated significantly leading to a physical tussle between Venezuelan media and security officials and police.
Today, Thursday December 14, a high-level meeting is being held at the AIA with the Presidents of Guyana and Venezuela along with leaders and senior government officials from other CARICOM countries.
When Guyanese President, Irfaan Ali,arrived he was greeted by Vincentian Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves and his wife Eloise.
The media rushed to the plane for photos and videos, resulting in security officials being bombarded on both sides.
Afterwards, Commissioner of Police, Enville Williams, in a very stern manner addressed the media saying,
“What happened just now with the President of Guyana will not happen again. If it does, I will strip all credentials and throw the media off the compound.”
The CoP then instructed his officers to set up an official cordon in the vicinity of the arrivals gate, the first that had been established since officials began touching down at AIA around 8:30 am.
Some media, though, were able to slip through the cordon as only one officer had been instructed to monitor it.
Shortly after, Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro touched down, arguments between international, regional media and police started as they requested permission to move closer to the aircraft to secure pictures and videos. They reasoned that as most of the media personnel had already moved up to the aircraft, they should have been afforded the same permission. This request was however denied.
As Maduro made his way down the tarmac, police officers, both local and foreign, employed heavy-handed measures to keep distance between the Venezuelan contingent and media including pushing and shoving.
The Spanish-English language difference also posed a problem in communication.
Today’s meeting is an effort to diffuse the tensions between Guyana and Venezuela over the Essequibo region border controversy.