This week marks the 57th anniversary of the Geneva Agreement signed in 1966 between Venezuela, the United Kingdom and the then British colony of Guyana.
The Government of Venezuela has “categorically” rejected a statement issued by the Guyana Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the historic territorial dispute between the two countries over the Essequibo, a border region rich in natural resources, minerals and oil fields.
This Friday, on the occasion of the 57th anniversary of the Geneva Agreement —signed in 1966 between Venezuela, the United Kingdom and the then British colony of Guyana—, Georgetown accused Caracas of attempt to “undermine” the treaty and “frustrate the resolution of the dispute through the courts.”
He also emphasized that he adheres to the Geneva Agreement, which “does not impose any obligation” Guyana to refrain from economic development activities in any part of its territory or annexed maritime areas. “Any unilateral attempt by Venezuela to restrict Georgetown’s exercise of its sovereignty and sovereign rights will be totally incompatible with the agreement and the rule of international law,” he warned.
For its part, the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded this Saturday that “it’s amazing” that the Guyanese government “falsely” accuses Caracas of undermining said pact, and “on the contrary, it boldly affirms that it does not prevent acts of disposition, active exploitation and degradation and arbitrary of the territory, which abusively exceed any formula of administration respectful of the reality of a contentious territory”.
The Essequibo, a border territory of approximately 160,000 square kilometers with abundance of natural resources, has been in dispute since the 19th century. In 1899, the so-called Paris Arbitration Award without the presence of Venezuela, it ruled in favor of the United Kingdom, stripping the Bolivarian Republic of the region that had belonged to it since 1777.
Caracas appealed the ruling before the UN, which in 1966 decreed “null and void”which led the parties to sign the Geneva Agreement by which they committed to find an agreed solution for the land dispute. But Guyana refuses to accept any decision other than the Paris award.
“I did not dream of being born as an independent State”
In 2018, the Guyanese government filed a lawsuit against Venezuela to resolve the dispute before the International Court of Justice, in The Hague, which declared itself competent to analyze the validity of the arbitration award of 1899. Caracas maintains that this court has no jurisdiction in this case, since the parties to the Geneva Agreement determined that the only way to resolve the dispute is amicable settlement.
“Guyana knows well that although it did not even dream of being born as an independent State until 1966, Venezuela instead has the historical and legal titles indisputable evidence that shows that Guayana Esequiba belongs to it” for a long time, recalled the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry.
“The only goal of the british empire was to strip Venezuela of its territory, to steal and loot their resources“, he specified. In addition, he denounced that Georgetown “has unilaterally tried to abstract from the Geneva Agreement, with a legal interpretation born and financed by oil transnationals”, for which he urged Guyana to assume “seriously” its international responsibilities.