News Americas, GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Thurs. July 9, 2015: Guyana’s new President says he is hopeful of a peaceful resolution to the border crisis between his country and Venezuela.
President David Granger expressed optimism as the Venezuelan government moved to recall its ambassador to Guyana for “consultations” amid an escalating row over oil exploration in Guyana’s Stabroek Bloc, located in the Essequibo region.
President Granger said Guyana is not interested in further attacks or heightening the level of the tension on the border controversy.
Venezuela, which has the world’s largest oil reserves, has long claimed a significant chunk of Guyana, including a large marine area where Exxon Mobil Corp. recently announced it made a significant oil discovery.
Venezuela issued a decree soon after that announcement extending its territorial claims farther out into the Atlantic to encompass the area where the discovery was made.
Guyana denounced the decree as a threat to regional peace and said it would formally ask the United Nations to intervene. U.N Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has offered to mediate.
The dispute stems from an 1899 court ruling that required Venezuela to relinquish an undeveloped but resource-rich jungle territory called the Essequibo that constitutes about two-thirds of Guyanese territory. Venezuela contends the ruling was invalid, and many official maps still describe the Essequibo as Venezuelan territory. Guyana says Venezuela pledged to abide by the ruling, but later reneged.
President Granger reaffirmed his earlier position that the decree by the Venezuelan leader is a backward step and Guyana has no intentions of retaliating.
“We would like to call on him [President Nicholas Maduro] to revoke the decree completely and entirely and we would like to have a normal diplomatic relationship with Venezuela,” President Granger proposed.
Guyana has so far successfully lobby CARICOM to denounce the decree by the Venezuelan government as their claims not only affects Guyana but other Caribbean nations as well.
On Monday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said in a speech to parliament that “It takes a lot of patience to process, digest and not vomit when one reads and hears the statements against Venezuela … by the current president (of Guyana).”
He also ordered the foreign ministry to conduct a full review of bilateral relations but ruled out the possibility of armed conflict.
Still he had harsh words for the new Guyana President, describing him as a “hostage of Exxon Mobil.”