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Dr Richard Van West-Charles to be Guyana’s Ambassador to Venezuela

President Dr Irfaan Ali and Dr Richard Van West Charles during a meeting at State House in June 2023

Executive Member of the Peoples National Congress Reform (PNC/R) Dr Richard Van West-Charles has been selected by the Guyana Government to be its new Ambassador to Venezuela.

West-Charles is the son-in-law of late Guyanese President Forbes Burnham, who was also the founding leader of the PNC.

Just two years ago, West-Charles was vying for the leadership of the PNC, but had lost to Aubrey Norton.

West-Charles had served as Head of the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) under the former APNU+AFC administration.

Dr Richard Van West-Charles

Guyana’s last Ambassador to Caracas was Cheryl Miles, who was removed from the post since December 2019. Miles had been appointed as Guyana’s Head of Mission in Venezuela back in 2016.

Venezuela continues to lay claim to more than two-thirds of Guyana’s landmass, which is in Essequibo, and a portion of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), in which almost 11 billion barrels of oil have been discovered over the past eight years and oil production activities are ongoing.

In 2018, Guyana moved to the International Court of Justice (ICJ( after exhausting all means of negotiation with Venezuela and the failed good offices process between the two South American neighbours. Guyana is seeking a final and binding ruling on the October 3, 1899 Arbitral Award to settle the long-standing border controversy.

Having rejected both of Venezuela’s preliminary objections, the ICJ has set April 8, 2024 as the time limit for the filing of a Counter-Memorial by Venezuela.

Recently, Venezuela issued a communique in which it criticised Guyana’s oil blocks auction and threatened Guyana’s economic development but this was swiftly criticised by the international community.

Venezuela has since announced a planned referendum, to have its citizens vote on the border controversy with Guyana. Guyana has reached out and communicated its displeasure over this development to Venezuela.