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United Nations Deciding Guyana/Venezuela Border Controversy

United Nations Deciding Guyana/Venezuela Border Controversy Jermaine Abel The ongoing border feud between oil-rich Venezuela and Guyana will be decided by the United Nations, The Observer was reliably informed. The issue recently took a twist when reports coming out of the sister CARICOM state indicated that a ship travelling to Venezuela to collect fuel was turned back along with the country’s shipment of rice. Guyana’s Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan in an interview with this publication at the recent Caribbean High Level meeting here in Basseterre, explained that the country is looking for a “judicial settlement” on the issue, which he indicated was settled more than a century ago. “We need to settle this once and for all. As you know Guyana now is pushing for a judicial settlement. The matter is currently in the hands of the United Nations General Assembly and it is with him [UN President Sam Kutesa] that a final mechanism should be indicated.” Jordan recounted that back in 1899, an arbitral award was handed down in Guyana’s favour. “A controversy arose when a junior delegate to that arbitral award wrote a letter and said it should be opened when he died. The letter was opened and he claimed that Venezuela was robbed and since then Venezuela has made an issue. I think it is important to recognize that Venezuela accepted the arbitral award for 60 years prior to creating an issue based on the letter of a dead man.” The Venezuela and Guyana border controversy flared up shortly after the latter’s General Elections in May, when American oil giant Exxon revealed a major discovery of the commodity in the country’s Stabroek Block. Venezuela then issued a decree for two-thirds of Guyana’s land which encompassed the Stabroek block. Guyana approached CARICOM for intervention but the regional body issued what was deemed a ‘water down statement’ by the country’s politicians. St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris had said he supports “peaceful dialogue” in the ongoing controversy and sought to explained CARICOM’s position to The Observer. “A peaceful resolution of the matter at the highest level and we stand ready to support those engagement efforts. Guyana is a member of the CARICOM family, very dear and precious to us and Venezuela is a special friend.” Meanwhile, Jordan told this media house that CARICOM took the stance to show its support for both sides. “I think CARICOM has taken a response that is both judicious and prudent. We have to be aware that CARICOM do have relations with Venezuela and we also have relations with Venezuela,” he revealed. Guyana has now moved to Trinidad as an option to fill its shortfall in oil demands, since they have not received oil from their western neighbours for few months. “We haven’t purchased oil from Venezuela since July, but we are still in the PetroCaribe for all intents and purposes, we have not dropped out. We are moving to have more security in our supplies, so we have approached Trinidad to have a longer term contract than buying on the spot like we are doing at the moment.” Guyana is still exploring remaining in PetroCaribe, The Observer understands, however, Venezuela indicated that they should stop sending rice “ostensibly because too much was sent at one time as we sought to fulfill the quota. We haven’t shipped rice to Venezuela since”, Jordan revealed. “The existing contract ends November 15th , and unless we accelerate shipments between now and then we may very well shortfall on the quantities that are to be provided and I hope not, for the sake of the farmers.”

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