Guyana is a small peaceful country. Our borders were clearly demarcated and internationally accepted in law through the 1899 Arbitral Award. Decades later Venezuela claimed, and still claims that this Award is null and void. It continues to occupy the half of Ankoko Island which belongs to Guyana and is able to do so because we are militarily inferior.
Venezuela in more recent times has made incursions into our maritime and territorial space, even seizing a ship performing work in our maritime space; has had its maps configured to include Guyana’s territory even giving Spanish names to streets in Essequibo; has issued decrees which threaten our territorial integrity. How much more must Guyana risk Venezuela doing to Guyana and its people?
Maduro may not be as hawkish on Guyana as those that are likely to follow him. But must Guyana wait to endure the military power that could be eventually unleashed on it as Venezuela seeks to control our oil and gas resources the value of which it is already placing as part of its economic recovery programme? Guyana, as a small and militarily weak nation must look to its friends with military might to create an environment of peace through strength. Brazil, Britain and America are those friends we must count on.
If we desire to avoid the continuing insult of Venezuela’s actions in the past; to avoid Venezuela’s threat to our future prosperity; to ensure peace; then the mechanisms which would demonstrate that Guyana is not weak should not be withheld. We must be able through the strength of our friends to demonstrate that military aggression against us will be repelled. Diplomacy and the Law through the ICJ must remain our main weapons.