Caricom to meet Friday over Guyana-Venezuela territorial dispute
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Caricom Heads of Government will meet on Friday to discuss the Guyana-Venezuela dispute over the Essequibo region.
According to a release on Thursday, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who informed that he will be attending the meeting, said his administration firmly believes in the principles of sovereignty and the territorial integrity of countries.
“We could never support any country that violates the territorial integrity of another; that’s in our national interest as a small island developing State. So, whenever that happens, we speak out strongly against that,” he said. “We believe in the sovereignty of a country and non-intervention in the…internal affairs of a country. Jamaica’s voice has been consistent and loud in this regard and respected internationally.”
Responding to questions during Tuesday’s hybrid ‘Let’s Connect’ townhall in Washington DC, Holness also noted that Jamaica continues to build capacity to be a strong partner in ensuring peace in the Caribbean.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, who also participated in the session, said the Government welcomes the unanimous ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the Cooperative People’s Republic of Guyana’s request for the indication of provisional measures in the case concerning the 1899 Arbitral Award.
The Court’s Order strongly supports the position of Guyana, which is shared by Jamaica, that the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, should refrain from any action, which would seize, acquire or encroach upon, or assert or exercise sovereignty over the Essequibo region or any other part of Guyana’s national territory.
“Jamaica stands in support of that position and continues to hope for a peaceful resolution of the issue within international law and as determined by the ICJ. The matter was sent to the ICJ by the United Nations (UN) years ago. Venezuela has not acknowledged the jurisdiction of the ICJ in that matter, but they have been present and we continue to hope that calmer heads will prevail and that the circumstances, which does seem to be becoming more tense and more frictional, that they can be solved,” Johnson Smith said.
She noted that the matter is to go before the UN Security Council on Friday, when Caricom Heads will also be meeting to discuss the issue.
“We will hear from [Guyana’s] President [Irfaan] Ali at that time and also hear what would have come of the UN Security Council meeting,” she noted.
Minister Johnson Smith said Jamaica has long supported the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Guyana “as we do for all countries and their ability to protect same, so that is our position.”
In 1899, an arbitration ruling stated that the area in dispute, the Essequibo Region, belonged to Guyana, however, Venezuela has claimed that the process was fraudulent, rendering the ruling invalid.
Venezuelan President, Nicolás Maduro, on Tuesday, gave a directive for the country’s State-owned companies to begin to exploit the mineral and oil rich Essequibo region.
This followed his victory in a weekend referendum, on whether Venezuela should claim sovereignty over the area.