Backing you all the way
Commonwealth supports Guyana in border dispute
The 53-member Commonwealth has thrown its support behind Guyana in its ongoing maritime border dispute with Venezuela, but has steered clear of the controversy surrounding the Dominican Republic’s deportation of 200,000 Haitian immigrants.
Guyana President David Granger, in his inaugural address to the CARICOM Heads of Government meeting yesterday, pleaded for “the succour of the Commonwealth” as Caracas ramped up the pressure on Georgetown by declaring a decree on May 27 laying claim to the waters off the Essequibo.
Addressing a media conference today, the outgoing Commonwealth Secretary General, Kamalesh Sharma, told journalists that the grouping of 2.2 billion people was behind Guyana all the way.
“We stand in solidarity and support to Guyana. This is a position, which the Commonwealth has taken steadfastly for a long period of time,” said Sharma.
The Commonwealth is made up of former British territories, therefore, neither Haiti nor the Dominican Republic belongs to the grouping.
Sharma explained that for this reason, the organization was not engaged in the Haitian deportation issue.
In his address at the CARICOM opening Granger also appealed for the support of his fellow leaders.
He recieved the backing of at least one leader today, as Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar of Trinidad and Tobago announced that Port of Spain would not sit idly by and watch Guyana being “dispossessed of territory” by Venezuela’s “unilateral” decree.
Emerging from closed-door talks with Granger, Persad Bissessar told journalists that Port of Spain had also offered its assistance to the president.
“We have always had discussions in Port of Spain, collaborations with Guyana in matters dealing with Venezuela and others, and so we also offered to assist in any way that we can in having dialogue by the bilateral or multilateral level,” she said.
“We did invite His Excellency [Granger] to visit Trinidad and Tobago and he has accepted the invitation . . . we pledge our commitment to support Guyana. We have always supported Guyana in the border dispute and we will continue so to do,” she added.
Persad Bissessar, a lawyer, argued that the Venezuelan decree was a violation of the international law of the sea. However, she felt there was room for dialogue on the matter.
The Trinidadian leader also contended
that the decree called for boundary changes that draw Venezuela closer to her country, and this would be “to the detriment of Trinidad and Tobago”.