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Respect for territorial integrity matters

Dear Editor,
It is important from the outset to state that the Arbitral Award of 1899 settled the border between Guyana and Venezuela. Hence, the claim of Essequibo by Venezuela continues to be a most ludicrous one and an affront to both the Guyanese people and international law.
The recent decision by the Government of Venezuela to hold a referendum on defending its claim to the Essequibo region of Guyana is most concerning and signals utter contempt for the rule of law and a blatant provocation that threatens the peace and stability of the Region.
Guyana’s territorial integrity must be respected, must be protected, and all nations must condemn Venezuela’s sabre-rattling.
Historically, the Government of Guyana and the Opposition have always come together on this non-negotiable position that compels us as Guyanese first and foremost to have a unified position in defence of our sovereignty and territorial integrity.
As was aforementioned, the Arbitrary Award of 1899 by an international tribunal settled the border between Guyana and Venezuela, and this decision must be respected today as it was many years ago. The Guyanese people at home and abroad are united in their determination to defend our country’s territorial integrity.
The public postulation by some in the international community of support for Guyana’s position and its judicial pursuits on this egregious matter is most welcomed. The Caribbean Community (Caricom), the Commonwealth, the Organisation of American States (OAS), and the United States Department of State have all expressed their solidarity with Guyana.
The international community must continue to lend its strong voice in condemning Venezuela’s repudiation and disregard for the United Nations Charter’s call for respect of fellow members of state sovereignty and in the case of Guyana, its pursuit of a final and complete judicial settlement at the International Court of Justice.
It is, therefore, more crucial for all Guyanese to unite behind their country’s cause in this matter. The defence of Guyana’s territory is of utmost importance and should not be a partisan issue. A strong national call for unity is necessary to ensure that Venezuela’s efforts to divide and conquer do not succeed.
Additionally, the international community must also lend its voice to the condemnation of Venezuela’s actions. Disregarding the sovereignty of other nations poses a threat to peace and stability in the Region. Moreover, Guyana has every right to engage in economic activity within its territory and the corresponding maritime zone to develop its country and provide a better life for its people without intimidation from larger states.

Jermaine Figueira,