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Rowley tells Opposition to ‘shut up’ on Guyana-Venezuela border dispute

Published:Saturday | December 9, 2023 | 12:07 AM
Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar.
Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar.

PORT OF SPAIN (CMC):

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley Friday called on main opposition United National Congress (UNC) to “shut up” and allow for the ongoing border dispute between Guyana and Venezuela over the Essequibo region to be solved by competent persons.

“I stood up for the people of Guyana in 2015 and the UNC will now stand with the people of Guyana in 2023 and 2024.” Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar told a UNC meeting earlier this week, reminding the audience that, while she was prime minister, Venezuela sought to claim maritime waters “encompassing Guyana’s exclusive economic zone”.

The Opposition has also called on the Trinidad and Tobago government to act as a mediator in the current crisis.

But Rowley told reporters that “it is very concerning to me that our Opposition in Trinidad and Tobago seems to make a career of undermining our national foreign policy, our CARICOM policy.

“I don’t know why they do it, but they do it every time,” said Rowley, who was scheduled to join CARICOM leaders on Friday for a virtual summit on the current situation in Guyana.

He said those who pretend to want to speak on the border dispute “and asking your home government … to intervene as mediators would know that we are going against the position of the people of Guyana.

“The people of Guyana are firm in their position. I speak with the president (of Guyana) on an ongoing basis … Guyana does not encourage and does not require its problem to be dealt with by any mediation with Venezuela at this time. Guyana places its store and its fortunes in the adjudication of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Rowley said Venezuela’s position is that it does not recognise the ICJ reminding reporters “For there to be mediation, the parties are to subject themselves to mediation.

“One person cannot mediate something against somebody else and I think the Opposition should know that and should shut up, because all those interventions are doing is worsening the situation for the people of Guyana and if we say we supporting Guyana, we can’t be supporting them verbally and undermining what they believe is the best approach,” Rowley said.

He said there is a government in Trinidad and Tobago “and I daresay the politics should stop at the borderline”.

Following the referendum held in Caracas on Sunday, which the Venezuela government said had been approved by at least 95 per cent of the voters, Presidet Maduro announced that foreign companies working in Essequibo would have to withdraw within three months, asserting his right to do so after Venezuelan voters backed the December 3 referendum to seeking ownership of the area.

“I propose a special law to prohibit all companies that work under Guyana concessions from any transaction. They have three months to withdraw once his proposal is approved,” Maduro added.

While Maduro hasn’t yet dispatched any military forces to enforce his demands, he said he would be creating a military unit for the disputed territory, but that it would be based in a neighbouring Venezuelan state.