Sunday, September 24, 2023

Guyana must use all fora to advance facts on border case – Jagdeo

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The recent meeting of 11 South American Presidents and one Prime Minister in Brazil presented a significant opportunity for Guyana. According to Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, the occasion offered the country the chance to provide a factual perspective of the decades-old controversy with Venezuela whose President Nicolás Maduro, pushes an egregious claim for Guyana’s territorial waters.

The Vice President made the foregoing point as he responded to queries from the local press about Guyana’s foreign policy agenda with Brazil. He was asked to share how those relations might be coloured or shaped in light of the fact that Brazil’s President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva—who led the meeting of the region’s leaders—is pushing for a new era of integration that includes Venezuela.

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Dr. Jagdeo did not express any concerns about Lula’s move. He noted that in regional politics, Guyana has been a proponent of peace and South American oneness. In fact, the Vice President said Guyana has been an important member of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). That group was created in 2008 to propel regional integration on issues including democracy, energy, environment, and security.

Dr. Jagdeo noted that Guyana has even hosted several UNASUR meetings while adding that work on regional integration has predated Lula’s presidency. He said efforts towards this end were done with Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the 34th President of Brazil, and Dilma Vana Rousseff, the 36th President of Brazil.

The Vice President said, “It has helped us enormously in Guyana because in the early days, people had a different view that somehow we didn’t act as though we belonged to this continent. We disproved all of that by having these conversations at the technical and political level… So, we have become an important member of UNASUR.”

He said too that Guyana’s President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali wants to continue the process of strengthening South American bonds. In so doing, he reasoned that it would have been foolhardy for Guyana to not attend the meeting of South American Presidents at the invitation of President Lula.

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Given Guyana’s case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Jagdeo said the meeting bore even greater importance. With Venezuela at the table, he said the collective weight of like-minded leaders could impress upon Venezuelans that this is the preferred course of resolving this aged-long controversy and that they should actively participate in it and respect the results of it.

The meeting of South America’s leaders on Tuesday is considered a move by Brazil’s President to reinvigorate regional integration while creating new ties politically and economically. It is the first such meeting to happen in almost a decade.

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