In a post on X (formerly Twitter) on Thursday, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called on Mercosur – the South American trade bloc, and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) to weigh in on the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy. He also said Brazil stands ready to host negotiations between the two countries – ‘as many as necessary’.
It is not immediately clear what aspect of the issue the Brazilian leader proposes be the subject of ‘negotiations’. However, Guyana has made it pellucid that it will not engage in talks with Venezuela regarding the substantive issue before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which is the validity of the 1899 arbitral award that fixed the border between the two countries 124 years ago.
“An important issue that we have to debate is the Essequibo issue. Mercosur cannot stay away from the issue. I suggest that Celac’s fellow current president can discuss the issue with both parties: Guyana and Venezuela. Brazil is available to host as many negotiation meetings as necessary. We do not want and do not need more war, especially on our continent. We have to build peace to improve people’s lives,” he wrote.
It was after several decades of unsuccessful dialogue aimed at resolving the controversy, that the United Nations Secretary-General referred the matter to the ICJ. Subsequently, in March 2018, Guyana lodged its case seeking a comprehensive and conclusive resolution by way of validation of an 1899 Arbitral Award that effectively settled the land boundary between the two countries.
Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro had recently called for a direct dialogue with Guyana’s President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, via posts on X (formerly Twitter). This invitation was seen by Guyana as another attempt by Venezuela to disregard international law and the ICJ’s repeated affirmations of its authority to rule on the ongoing case between the two countries.
President Ali himself said too that while he is open to dialogue with President Maduro, the border controversy is not up for discussion.