The government of Guyana has failed to comply with a 1966 agreement that recognizes a controversy over territorial sovereignty by guaranteeing “illegal concessions to international oil companies and other nations, and carrying out acts of mining and forestry exploitation, without control.” – Sebastiana Barraez – Reporter, Caracas, Venezuela.
The issue of Essequibo has always been particularly sensitive in the Venezuelan Armed Forces. This region, also known as the Essequibo territory, is part of the Guiana shield, which covers almost 160 thousand square kilometers and is administered by the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. However, Venezuela claims sovereignty over it based on the Geneva Agreement of February 17, 1966.
Within this framework, two institutions, made up mostly of retired military personnel from the Armed Forces and some professionals from law and education, presented a joint document on the situation in the Essequibo: they are the Institute for Border Studies of Venezuela (IDEFV) and the Military Institutional Front (FIM).
The manifesto, which is dated March 15, 2020, is addressed to “all Venezuelans, without exclusions,” and refers to the “continuous actions and activities that the Cooperative Republic of Guyana continues to carry out in order to ignore the validity of the Geneva Agreement, signed on February 17, 1966 by Great Britain, its colony, British Guiana and the Republic of Venezuela.”
The Institute of Border Studies of Venezuela (IDEFV) is chaired by the General of Division (Ex) Oswaldo Sujú Raffo; as vice president the engineer Aníbal R. Martínez; María E. Vásquez de Ojer, secretary; the treasurer being Dr. Luis Semprúm Salgado. Doctors Cesáreo José Espinal Vásquez and Blanca Mármol de León, among others, are on the Academic Council.
For its part, the Military Institutional Front (FIM) is chaired by Vice Admiral Rafael Huizi Clavier; in the vice presidency is Brigadier General Teodoro Díaz Zavala while the Secretary General is Colonel (Ex.) Rubén Bustillos Rávago. The vocals, meanwhile, are made up of the various components of the Armed Forces.
Officials, of diverse military rank, say that “in strict adherence to the inescapable and imprescriptible postulates ordered by the current Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in 1999, it is urgent to return to elevate our feelings and patriotic ideals in defense of our national sovereignty.”
It is for this reason, they highlight, that it is necessary to state that “Venezuela never recognized the validity of the Paris Arbitration Award of 1899, since it was flawed since its inception of compromises among the arbitrators of the award, as has been fully verified.”
The paragraph refers to the resolution issued as a consequence of the Washington Arbitration Treaty of 1897, by which the United States – in representation of Venezuela- and the United Kingdom -owner at that time of what is today the Cooperative Republic of Guyana– agreed to submit to that mechanism to resolve the dispute regarding the territory.
The award was favorable to the United Kingdom, but Venezuela immediately questioned it. And in 1962, the state made progress in its claims: “The then Venezuelan Chancellor Dr. Marcos Falcón Briceño denounced before the XVIII United Nations Assembly the nullity of the 1899 Paris Award, which gave rise to a debate about of the right of Venezuela in the West of the Essequibo River, from its source to its arrival in the Atlantic Ocean. On February 17, 1966 the Geneva Agreement (UN) was signed, where the government of Venezuela, Great Britain and the colony of British Guiana all recognized the existence of the controversy and established procedures for a peaceful solution,” says a paragraph of the letter.
No to the Paris Award
The document assures that the signing of the Geneva Agreement implied that, “when the parties accepted submitting to this Agreement, the 1899 Paris Award was null and void.”
In the opinion of the military, Venezuela must not accept going to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as requested by Guyana, but go back to know the effectiveness and validity of the 1899 Paris Award. “Venezuela must not re-analyze this 1899 Paris Award because it would give effect to what is void by the 1966 Geneva Agreement,” they highlight.
They recall that “in the Geneva Agreement it was established that some act or activity be carried out by any of the parties while the 1966 Geneva Agreement is in force.”
On the other hand, they recall that “the British Guiana colony was given independence on May 26, 1966, and became a republic on February 23, 1970, with the name of Guyana.” In that sense, in the talks for a peaceful solution, it must be between Venezuela and Guyana,” it is pointed out.
Representatives of the Military Front and the Institute for Border Studies say that, “Guyana breached the current Geneva Agreement of 1966, and continues to do so, by giving illegal concessions to international oil companies and other nations, and carrying out acts of mining and forestry exploitation , without control, contaminating soils and rivers of towns, hamlets, habitat of indigenous peoples, in the disputed territory.”
The military’s suggestion is that “in this situation, Venezuela must not accept going to the International Court of Justice.” On the contrary, it is recommended to sue the International Court of Justice for the claim of our Essequibo territory, for having a fair title and right that comes from the territory as a colony of Spain and from the boundaries that belonged to the Captaincy General of Venezuela in 1777.”
They recommend that the National Assembly of Venezuela pronounce on the requests of Guyana and the decision of the Secretary General of the United Nations and, likewise, propose to the National Executive, “that the territory west of the Essequibo River be designated as the Manuel Piar State.”