‘Did Guyana threaten any state?’ – Norton to Bajan PM

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A comment from Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, urging both Guyana and Venezuela to ensure the Caribbean region remains a zone of peace is not sitting well with Guyanese lawmakers. 

Mottley told attendees at her party’s 84th Conference over the weekend that Venezuela has been a “good sister country to us and we pray that therefore…persons will allow maturity to attend all of their actions and conversations.” 

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She went on to call on both countries to maintain the peace. “I hope that the rhetoric and noise between Venezuela and Guyana does not turn our Caribbean into anything that is not a zone of peace. Because it matters to us that this Caribbean remains a zone of peace and we ask those parties to recognize that their actions go beyond their two countries,” Mottley stated.

Speaking at an extraordinary sitting of the National Assembly in Guyana on Monday, Opposition Leader, Aubrey Norton, while not identifying Mottley by name, made known his distaste for the position she has taken on the issue. 

“Only recently, a Caribbean politician called on Guyana and Venezuela to ensure that the Caribbean remains a zone of peace. I could not believe that…honestly,” Norton stated, to the loud agreement of his colleagues. He went on to explain that he could not accept that a Caribbean sister State would cast Guyana in that kind of light. 

“Are we to conclude that Guyana has threatened the territorial integrity and sovereignty of any State in the Caribbean? We never did. Have we issued decrees to take over another State’s maritime space? We never did. Have we rejected the decisions of any international tribunal? We never did. It was Venezuela that did,” he stated. 

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Norton said that to therefore call on Guyana and Venezuela to maintain a zone of peace, “is classic eye pass”—a Guyanese/West Indian colloquialism used to mean blatant disrespect. Norton said, “it is really disturbing that a Caribbean nation can say that and implicate Guyana” when the country lacks the military means to even conceptualize such an approach.    

Observers say Mottley’s urgings to both sides to maintain the peace, and her seeming deliberate attempt to maintain some degree of neutrality, fly in the face of decades of provocation, aggression, and now, a clear threat of military invasion by Venezuela of a sister CARICOM country. 

The international community and regional body, CARICOM, have been loud in their condemnation of Venezuela’s most recent actions which seek to, by way of a referendum, annex over 70% of Guyana by laying claim to the vast Essequibo region.

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