El líder de la oposición de Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo, afirmó que durante su mandato (desde el 11 de agosto de 1999 al 3 de diciembre de 2011) se hubiese presentado la controversia fronteriza con Venezuela hubiese alcanzado las proporciones actuales “habría cedido una parte” al país.
“Hay otras opciones que suponen una solución negociada que no contemplan concesiones de tierra que el Laudo de 1899 mantiene intactas. Posiblemente podríamos, en el área marítima, darle a Venezuela un canal hacia el mar. De modo que haces una ligera concesión en la zona marítima, pero te aseguras de no conceder ningún espacio en tierra firme”, explicó durante una rueda de prensa.
Señaló además que en su opinión, la opción jurídica es la mejor manera de llegar a una solución. “Hay otras, no estoy diciendo que la jurídica es mala, estoy diciendo que decidimos como país esta ruta, pero ¿podemos hacerlo solos?”, manifestó.
Jagdeo opina que es necesario saber si la Organización de Naciones Unidas seguirá apoyando el proceso en caso de que la disputa se lleve a la Corte Internacional de Justicia, y recomendó mantener al organismo siempre involucrado.
Make concession to Venezuela-Jagdeo …floats ceding maritime space
FORMER President Bharrat Jagdeo, now Opposition Leader, on Friday said the idea of negotiating a settlement with Venezuela that would see that country being given “a channel out to the sea” was discussed while he was in power.Jagdeo was at the time addressing the media at Freedom House, Robb Street, on questions his party has with respect to the present government’s decision to go the juridical route on the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy.
“Well, we gather that there are several other options available to the [UN] Secretary-General. I don’t want to say much about the options, but let me say…I am in a very difficult position but there were other options that involve a negotiated settlement… Negotiated settlement which did not see any land concession that the 1899 award would remain intact, but there was one view that you could probably on the maritime area, give Venezuela a channel out to the sea,” said the former president.
Asked whether he was suggesting that a part of the Essequibo be given to Venezuela, Jagdeo replied, “Not the Essequibo River, Orinoco, just on the border. Not our Essequibo. I didn’t mean that.”
The PPP leader added that what would have had to happen was that “you make a slight concession in the maritime area, but make sure you do not concede any territory that is land-based, because the maritime boundaries still are yet to be determined.”
Asked for a comment on the issue, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo said, “I feel that the views expressed by the Opposition Leader have to be subjected to scrutiny by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
Jagdeo stressed that there were other options that could be employed. “There are several other options. I am not saying the juridical option is bad…I am saying if we decide as a country to go this route, can we go it alone? What if Venezuela does not want to go this route? Could Guyana unilaterally go the juridical route or do we have to get Venezuela’s agreement?” he asked.
Five options were explored by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) administration to settle the border controversy.
Additionally, Jagdeo believes that whatever action is taken by government, the United Nations ought to be involved to the end.
“Will it mean us losing the UN because this option is not available in their charter? I am not questioning the juridical route, I am just saying that it is very important [to keep the UN involved in the process],” Jagdeo added.
Notwithstanding his querries, Jagdeo said his party remained in full support of the government on the border issue, but wanted the United Nations to be at the forefront of the settlement, whichever form it might take.
“We support the government of Guyana on our border issue, nowhere should that be questioned. Keep the United Nations involved even if you go the juridical route…keep the UN involved at all costs,” the former president stated.
Jagdeo added that government’s talk of a juridical process to settle the border controversy may have good basis, but “I have not had an opportunity to engage the government on the issue. I have not spoken to them on it and I don’t want to seem divided.”
The Venezuelan government had requested the restart of the UN Good Offices process, but Guyana had said the process was not working to the benefit of the country. Just prior to the last General Elections, the PPP government had said the Good Offices Process was exhausted and the time was ripe for the exploration of other options, inclusive of a juridical settlement.
On Thursday, President David Granger in his address to Parliament said the border controversy took first place and Guyana remained resolute in defence of its sovereign territory. The President added, “Venezuela’s fear is that, once a juridical process could prove that its contention that the Arbitral Award of 1899 was a nullity was proven to be baseless, its 50-year strategy of attrition aimed at gaining territory from Guyana stood in jeopardy of the prospect of collapse.”
Meanwhile, the former President called on the Granger-led administration to establish the Border Committee as per prior discussions. He said he has been waiting on government to reach out to his party on the border matters but so far, that has not happened.
Once established, Jagdeo believes that formal discussions on the issue could take place. Asked why he did not initiate steps to have the Border Committee established, he said, “I thought we’d move forward in a structural way… like the committee to be put in place so lots of those issues can be addressed there.”
He stressed the need to “make the Committee operational. “I am not sure I should initiate something that is primarily in the domain of the government. Although I believe strongly in solidarity, there is a commitment already… I can’t go and set up the border committee. I do not want anyone to interpret this at home or abroad that this is the questioning of the policy decision we have made.”
Referencing the Guyana-Suriname border issue, Jagdeo said that issue was always on the agenda of Suriname’s President Desi Bouterse. “I don’t know if it ever left the agenda. There are times when they would not mention it, but I was in no way under the illusion that it was not on their agenda,” he stated.
“I was under no illusion that the New River Triangle for them was on the back burner,” said Jagdeo. He agrees with President Granger that the border issue was settled. “This is a settled border issue. The New River Triangle is ours by agreement,” he added.