UN: President Granger in talks with Venezuela’s President Maduro in New York

UN: President Granger in talks with Venezuela’s President Maduro in New York

Coming out of a meeting between the Presidents of Guyana and Venezuela, Venezuela has agreed to send back its ambassador to Guyana while accepting Guyana’s Ambassador Cheryl Miles. Venezuela’s Maduro has also agreed to have a United Nations investigative team visit that country. The team will report to the Secretary General in an effort to find a solution to the controversy. Guyana’s position continues to be that the 1899 arbitration award settled the borders between the two countries.

Kaieteur News Report follows:   

Guyana/Venezuela border dispute…Maduro, Granger agree on UN intervention

SEPTEMBER 28, 2015 | BY – parties accept ambassadorial exchange

By Leonard Gildarie in New York

It appears that there may be light at the end of the tunnel for the Guyana and Venezuela controversy, with a highly anticipated meeting at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York between the two leaders yielding some positive results.
In the meeting last evening, UN’s Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, held the hands of both President David Granger and Venezuela’s leader, Nicolas Maduro, posing for pictures before engaging the two.
Speaking with reporters at the Yale Club, Manhattan, shortly after, President Granger said that Maduro agreed to send back his ambassador, who was recalled a few months ago, to facilitate talks.
During the meeting yesterday, both Granger and Maduro were allowed to present their cases to the UN boss.
While Granger expressed concerns about a recent Venezuelan troop buildup near Guyana borders, Maduro reportedly used a recent picture of army chief, Mark Philips, taking a salute, as being aggressive.
However, President Granger said, he pointed out that the salute in no way could be taken as being aggressive.
Guyana also pointed out that Venezuela expelled a US oil research ship from its waters in October 2013.
Venezuela must prove that a definitive arbitration award made in 1899 was invalid before it can lay claim to any of Guyana’s territory or waters. That award had even ceded 13,000 square kilometers to Venezuela.
“We said it is a legal matter and should be handled as such. President Maduro agreed to accept a delegation from UN office which will investigate the claims…”
With regards to the approval of a new ambassador to Venezuela, the Head of State said there was no specific commitment but Guyana expects that Maduro, in the same mode of conciliation of accepting the UN investigators, would do the right thing.
Former diplomat, Cheryl Miles, has been selected by the administration to replace Geoffrey Da Silva who has been recalled.
According to Granger, the Venezuela leader was pressing for bilateral talks but “we pointed out talks have been fruitless for 50 years. It is time to stop talking now and go to court.”

A court matter could last at least five years. Already, Guyana has started talking to lawyers on the border controversy.
“We expect Maduro and team to go back to the drawing board and refashion the relations with Guyana… we want cordial relations,” the President insisted.
With Venezuela’s population 40 times that of Guyana and an army 40 times bigger, there is no way that this country can threaten Venezuela, Granger noted.
“We want cordial relations. We want peace and to develop our resources and we are telling Venezuela to do the same.”
The special UN team can start work within weeks, the President disclosed.
There have been rumblings over the years by Venezuela against Guyana, although former Venezuela leader, Hugo Chavez, had publicly stated intentions to engage in trade and other bilateral activities with Guyana with no interest in reviving claims on Essequibo which were settled since 1899 under an arbitration award.
Under the PetroCaribe arrangements brokered in 2005 with several countries in South America and Caribbean states, including Guyana, Chavez had offered oil from his country at concessional terms with repayments stretched over two decades.
Countries, like Guyana, grabbed the opportunity with Venezuela, as it allowed them to use the delayed payments to plug in other areas of the economy.
Guyana, in turn, had been selling rice in exchange for the oil.
But the good relations appeared to be heading downhill fast, starting in earnest in October 2013 when Venezuela gunships detained and removed a US-chartered oil research ship from waters in Guyana. The 36-member crew, including US citizens, was detained and the ship escorted to Margarita, a Venezuelan island.
The seizure of that ship would follow a visit a few months before by the new President Maduro who promised to work with Guyana.
In May of this year, the situation got worse.
US-owned oil company, ExxonMobil, announced that it had found significant evidence of oil in its concession offshore Guyana.

The news immediately saw President Maduro issuing decrees that restated claims to Venezuela- Guyana’s biggest county- and also to waters that belonged to this country.
The decree even claimed ownership of the ExxonMobil concession and allowed Venezuela the right send its navy to patrol the waters.
The decree by Venezuela was issued on May 26th, Independence Day for Guyana, and the same day that President Granger was inaugurated.
The administration immediately rejected the decree, informing CARICOM, the Commonwealth, the United Nations and the Diplomatic Community.
President Granger made it clear that the territorial and maritime controversy would have to be settled once and for all by an International court.
Guyana signaled its interest to abandon the Good Officer process which was initiated by the United Nations over 25 years ago, saying that the process made no sense.
Venezuela has been visiting countries to whip up support with Maduro, even taking to his weekly television programme to talk about Guyana’s aggression in claiming what belonged to the people of the Venezuela.
In what was widely seen as a major move to pressure Guyana, Venezuela announced that it was no longer interested in taking rice from Guyana after November, when the annual agreement is expected to expire.

It became clear also that Venezuela was doing other things to frustrate the new Government and Guyana.
In July, Guyana experienced delays in receiving oil under the PetroCaribe from Venezuela’s facilities in Curacao.
The charted oil tanker had to be diverted to Trinidad and Tobago which had promised to help Guyana meet its energy demands.
Government in late August confirmed that Guyana has increased, dramatically, its oil supplies from Trinidad and Tobago, with no shipments taken over a month from Venezuela.
Over a week ago, President Granger announced that Venezuela has deployed troops and anti-aircraft equipment to the borders of Guyana.
Venezuela gunships were also placed in the Cuyuni River, which lies within Guyana.
Government yesterday confirmed that Venezuela has started pulling back the troops and the guns.
President Granger told reporters in New York last week that he does not buy arguments that Maduro was using the Guyana claims to divert Venezuelans attention from severe internal turmoil ahead Parliamentary elections slated for December. Venezuela is facing food shortages and a depressed economy as oil prices continue to remain low on the world market.
The Guyanese leader stressed that the aggression by Venezuela has become progressively worse in recent years, with a resolution required once and for all.
The simmering border claim has effectively scared foreign investors away from the mineral-rich Essequibo and could no longer be tolerated.
Maduro last week reportedly said he wanted to talk to President Granger in New York, but there was no official request received by the administration as of Friday.
The Venezuela issue is expected to take center stage when President Granger addresses the UN General Assembly tomorrow.
Maduro is also scheduled to speak in the afternoon.

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