Guyana on Sept. 8 criticized Venezuela’s government and opposition coalition for formally agreeing to take a united stance in rejecting the International Court of Justice’s role in settling a border dispute over Guyana’s oil-rich Essequibo Region.
“That agreement is an overt threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Guyana,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in reaction to the accord inked on Sept. 6 in Mexico.
Guyana said that the ICJ, also known as the World Court, had jurisdiction to settle the long-running controversy over the claim that Essequibo belongs to Venezuela and that the row should be settled through bilateral negotiations. “The controversy between Guyana and Venezuela is properly before the International Court of Justice and will remain there for peaceful resolution,” Guyana said.
In “firmly” rejecting the agreement between President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government and the Unity Platform of Juan Guaido, Guyana said that the accord would amount to a violation of international law.
“Guyana cannot be used as an altar of sacrifice for settlement of Venezuela’s internal political differences. While the Government of Guyana welcomes domestic accord within Venezuela, an agreement defying international law and process is not a basis for mediating harmony,” Guyana’s foreign ministry said.
Venezuela has interpreted the 1966 Geneva Agreement to mean that the border spat should be settled through bilateral talks or a United Nations Secretary-General mediation process instead of the ICJ.
Jorge Rodriguez, a representative of Venezuelan President Maduro, has said that Venezuela would call on Guyana to resume negotiations to reach an agreement.
Since Guyana’s first oil discovery in 2015, there has been discord between Venezuela and Guyana over the Essequibo region.
ExxonMobil has since then discovered 20 commercial deposits in the Stabroek Block, west of the Demerara River and outside the waters off Essequibo.
President Maduro has also twice unilaterally extended Venezuela’s maritime boundary with Guyana to take in all the Atlantic sea off the Essequibo region.
The 15-nation Caribbean Community has in the past helped to ease tensions between Guyana and Suriname.