PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, (CMC) – The Trinidad and Tobago government says it is hoping that the current border dispute between Guyana and Venezuela does not deteriorate further as it “would negatively damage all of us.”
“I have no forecast as to how it would go. But I would not like to see the relationship between Venezuela and Guyana deteriorate to a point where consequent actions would negatively damage all of us, because all of us would be damaged,” Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley told a news conference.
He insisted that the Caribbean Community (Caricom) region must remain a zone of peace.
“We are confident that the governments of Venezuela and Guyana would know that Caricom’s position must be, and remain, a zone of peace is the best position for all of us.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) last week reserved its judgement to Guyana’s claim that it has evidence that Venezuela intends to gain ownership of the mineral and forest-rich county of Essequibo through a referendum on December 3.
Both Guyana and Venezuela made presentations to the ICJ during two days of hearing into the case relating to the 1899 Arbitral Award after Guyana, in its request, had said that the Venezuela government through its National Electoral Council had published a list of five questions that it intends to put before the people of Venezuela in a “Consultative Referendum” next month.
The 15-member Caricom grouping, the London-based Commonwealth Secretariat and the Organization of American States (OAS) have all rejected the referendum, stating that international law strictly prohibits the Government of one State from unilaterally seizing, annexing or incorporating the territory of another state and noted that the referendum will open the door to the possible violation of this fundamental tenet of international law.
Rowley acknowledged Trinidad and Tobago’s negotiations to access Venezuela’s natural gas in the Dragon field could be jeopardised by the border dispute between Caracas and Georgetown, saying “There are always risks. It is like a nuclear reaction once it gets started you could lose control of it.
“The Dragon gas that we are after, Venezuela has an interest there….We trust that all governments see it as beneficial to all of us and we create that economy based on the God-given resources that we all have. To do that, we need peace, security, respect and good wishes for each other.”
Asked by reporters how he views the December 3 referendum in Venezuela, Prime Minister Rowley said “If there is any country that understands the principled position of Trinidad and Tobago, it is Venezuela.