The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will be reluctant to pursue our case concerning Essequibo if our electoral process gets derailed and our government’s legitimacy is in question. Our standing as a just and law-abiding democracy must be strong as we pursue closure of this very important pending matter before the ICJ.
Venezuela’s unofficial US-backed leader Mr. Guaido is of a very strong opinion that is contrary to our objectives as it relates to Essequibo. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has taken the position on his status which is favourable to our national security.
Mr. Guaido’s position on Essequibo could lead to a problematic situation as it relates to the US if our democratic process proves to be highly questionable. Under a Guaido Venezuelan government that is backed by the US, oil investments by US companies such as Exxon will continue to benefit, independent of who holds Essequibo.
Given the importance the US has placed on democratic rule in Venezuela, it appears that they have taken a neutral position on the matter of Essequibo. Their position could however change given the large reserves of oil in Venezuela, and any shift to a problematic democracy in Guyana could justify an unofficial pro-Guaido position on Essequibo.
However, it is most likely that US neutrality will be officially maintained. This will lead to increased vulnerability to an emboldened Venezuela under a Guaido government and any move to an armed takeover of the Essequibo region may at best result in a very late intervention by lost strong military allies due to a perceived problematic democratic government in Guyana. We must not forget what happened with Ankoko Island.
The United Nations Security Council would be the only best remaining option to pursue in such an event, but our standing at the UN must be that of a strong democracy to help obtain the desired support of the UK, US and France.
If a shift in our alliances goes towards Russia and China, this will favour a Maduro-led Venezuela. Reconnecting with the Maduro administration in defiance of the US-led position and sanctions could create increased uncertainty and exposure to loss of economic development via US-led oil exploration and production.
A Maduro regime alliance could also lead to a reduction in our national footprint upon the toppling of the Maduro regime given the US’ position on Mr. Guaido. The risk to national sovereignty in the Essequibo region will also exist if a Maduro regime continues to be in place, as it is in President Maduro’s best interest to promote a pro-nationalistic and patriotic position to maintain internal support for his administration.
Thus, any anticipated forced regime change in Venezuela will also place Guyana in the middle of a potentially highly volatile armed conflict which may also result in reduced national sovereignty independent of who wins such an armed conflict. Therefore, our best line of action is to ensure we win at the ICJ as soon as possible.
As we move forward with our electoral process, we must keep in mind that a large portion of our country could be in the balance, depending on how strong of a democracy we establish.
It is of utmost importance and in our long term best interest to take a conservative position as it relates to our democratic process. We all must place Guyana first and ensure that we do not lose this current opportunity before us to win our very strong case at the International Court of Justice, reconfirming once and for all Guyana’s national footprint and sovereignty over Essequibo.
Mr. Jamil Changlee
The Cooperative Republicans of Guyana