THE GUYANA-SURINAME BOUNDARY (1840-1926)
When the nineteen century came to an end, the boundary between Guyana and Suriname remained unsettled and no additional effort was made by either side to reach its final delimitation.
In 1910 Lieutenant C. C. Kayser of the Dutch Navy sailed up the Corentyne River, surveyed its upper areas and published an account of his findings and a map based on his surveys. He discovered another large branch of the Corentyne River which entered that river on its eastern side about 20 miles below the New River, and this he called the Lucie River. (Interestingly, the Dutch would not assert that the Lucie is the real Corentyne and all the rest a tributary - no doubt conscious of the implications that such a theory would hold were the boundary with Suriname to run along its course).
In February 1913, the Dutch Government accepted the Kutari River as the boundary position when the Netherlands Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Dutch Parliament said "the observation that, from the most recent researches, the New River has been proved to be the real Corentyne, and consequently forms the boundary between Surinam and British Guiana, is based on a misconception. On the contrary, it is a fact established both by history and by international law, and agreed to by the British Government, that the boundary, is formed by the Corentyne and its upper course, the Kutari-Curuni, and to this water course the ordinary rules of international law obtaining in respect of joint boundary rivers are wholly applicable."
During the same year, W.C. Farabee, Professor of Anthropology in the University of Philadelphia, explored the Kutari and the New Rivers. He was accompanied by John Ogilvie who, in a sworn declaration, attested, contrary to Barrington Brown's opinion, that the Kutari was bigger than the New River. The matter excited great attention in Holland in the latter part of the 1920s. Dr. Yzerman, one of the leading Dutch authorities on the subject, exhaustively discussed the question in a lecture to the Dutch Royal Geographical Society.
This Dutch recognition of the Kutari as the boundary between Suriname and British Guiana was further reinforced by a statement made on March 27, 1924, by the Netherlands Minister of Colonies in the Dutch Parliament. In answer to two Deputies who desired information respecting the boundary between Suriname and British Guiana, the Minister referred to the rejection in 1900 by the British Government of the Dutch claim to a boundary on the New River and said, "Subsequent to the exploration in question, which was carried out in 1843, it has been the Kutari-Curuni specifically which in its upper reaches, i.e. until its confluence with the New River, has been regarded as the boundary river. . ."
The Netherlands Minister for the Colonies in further statements to the Dutch Parliament in 1925 reported that Dr. Yzerman had shown that the basin of Kutari-Curuni was considerably more extensive than that of the New River, and did not justify the Dutch claim that the New River and not the Kutari-Curuni was the principal source of the Corentyne. This conclusion was later supported by scientific measurements of the comparative flows of both rivers taken by a Dutch expedition in 1926.
On June 23, 1925, the same Minister said: "The territory on the other side of these rivers (i.e., Curuni-Kutari) is one over which, according to the facts recognised up to the present, the authority of the Netherlands does not exist. . . . For years the British administration has issued concessions or licences there for obtaining balata. The action taken on the British side has therefore long been based on the standpoint that the British administration possesses rights there.... (For) decades the Corantine with its affluent the Curuni continued upstream by the Kutari river, has remained the boundary for the two parties concerned. This river line has hitherto always been accepted, de facto, as the boundary between British and Dutch Guyana. On this point therefore no uncertainty exists. . . ."
Again, on February 24, 1927, the Minister of Colonies declared: "Since about a century England has as a matter of fact had the disposal of the territory between the New River and the Curuni-Kutari.... As we now have boundaries which have become historical and which do not trouble us at all (i.e. the boundary formed by the western bank of the Corantin and Curuni-Kutari rivers) our claims are not particularly strong. It would therefore appear to me that should this matter be discussed with England the Netherlands standpoint would be weak. . . ."