Tell us what it's going to take for you to return to Guyana.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Venezuela Might Drop Essequibo Claim.

It would make sense to me that in order to have any influence in the English speaking Caribbean, Venezuela will have to end a latent threat to the territorial integrity of one of Caricom's member states.

I would not at all be surprised to know that the US could have influenced Venezuela to make that 'absurd claim'. Obviously nobody in Venezuela or the US knows about the Pomeroon.

Venezuelan communist party head's Essequibo 'absurd claim' statement gives hope - Ishmael
By Miranda La Rose

Sunday, January 28th 2007 (Stabroek News)

Guyana's ambassador to Venezuela, Dr Odeen Ishmael has found hope in the statement by Chairman of Venezuela's Communist Party Jeronimo Carerra that the government of President Hugo Chavez could eliminate, once and for all, Venezuela's "absurd claim" to five-eighths of Guyana's territory.

In a telephone interview, Dr Ishmael told Stabroek News that he based his hope on that fact that the statement was made by one of Chavez's allies, who wrote in the Caracas weekly La Razón on September 3, 2006, that Venezuela had formed part of strong imperialist pressures against Guyana in the early 1960s. According to Carrera, since the Venezuelan government was now firmly anti-imperialist: "It is my firm opinion that a decisive step of the present Bolivarian foreign policy sponsored by President Hugo Chavez would be to eliminate decisively that absurd claim.

"Such an action would free us of a ghost and open the door to a real and beneficial approach to the entire English-speaking Caribbean region."

In an opinion piece, Ishmael, who clearly stated that the views expressed were solely his, said it was significant that the fear of socialism had drawn the wrath of the United States against Dr Cheddi Jagan's government in pre-independent Guyana in the early 1960s.

At the time, Jagan, perceived by the US to be a communist, was agitating for political independence for Guyana from the British Government.

Ishmael said that Venezuela, then a loyal ally of the United States, "was used as a willing tool to apply imperialist pressure and destablise Jagan's government by resuscitating a claim to Guyana's western Essequibo territory."

Ishmael feels that Carerra's dangling of the bait in front of a Chávez anti-imperialist government whose relations with the United States government are strained, could work towards resolving the border controversy which began as a result of imperialist action.

In addition to Carerra's view, the Guyanese diplomat said, "We are seeing in the [Venezuelan] academic circle views advocating that the claim should be done away with," although he conceded that this approach did not extend to all segments of the population.

Noticeably absent in recent years, he said, were the anti-Guyanese sentiments whereby Venezuelans touted their claim to five-eighths of Guyana's territory and to which Guyanese living in Caracas and the staff of the Guyana mission were subject in the seventies and "even in the eighties."

Anti-Guyanese sentiment, he said, was especially noticeable at election time in Venezuela previously. However, during the recent 2006 general elections in that country and the referendum on Chávez's presidency in 2004 the issue had not been raised. He interpreted this as "a positive sign."

Ishmael said that given Carerra's thinking and that of the academic community he hoped Venezuelans would have a better understanding of the Venezuela/Guyana controversy.

He said while academia and unofficial circles might hold the view that the time was ripe to end the claim, the Venezuelan education system was still pumping the other side of the story.

Some of the newer maps of Venezuela showed the country without the "Reclamation Zone," as the Venezuelans called it, but Venezuela's official maps still included the shaded portion indicating the area of claim he said.

In a background to the claim, Dr Ishmael in his Trail of Diplomacy - A Documentary History of the Guyana-Venezuela Issue, said that as Guyana moved towards independence, "the clamour of the expansionist voices in Venezuela for their government to officially resurrect its claim to the western Essequibo grew louder. This the Venezuelan Government eventually did in February 1962 when the United Nations Fourth Committee, which dealt with matters of decolonisation, was discussing the issue of independence for British Guiana. Venezuela, basing its case on the Mallet-Prevost memorandum, officially raised the contention that the Arbitral Award of 1899 was invalid, and put forward the claim that the region west of the Essequibo River was Venezuelan territory.

"While Venezuela supported independence for British Guiana, it objected to the western Essequibo being included as Guyanese territory. Venezuela also insisted that since it was of the view that the Award of 1899 was invalid, it reasserted its claim to the western Essequibo, alleging it owned that territory before the Washington Treaty of Arbitration of 1897."

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