The Trail Of Diplomacy

A Documentary History of the Guyana-Venezuela Border Issue
by Odeen Ishmael
© Copyright 1998


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As the days of December 1981 passed, speculation was rife as to whether Venezuela would wait until the 17 December -- the last day for the notice to be given -- to inform Guyana officially that it would not be renewing the Protocol of Port of Spain. But Venezuela did not wait for the final day. In Caracas, Guyana's Charge d'Affaires, Patricia Fung-on and the British Ambassador were asked to present themselves to the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry at the same time on the 11 December to receive a communication. And in Georgetown, the Venezuelan Ambassador, Dr. Sadio Garavini, requested an audience with Guyana's acting Foreign Minister, Dr. Mohamed Shahabuddeen on the same date to deliver a communication from Caracas. During a 50-minute meeting with Dr. Shahabuddeen, Dr. Garavini delivered the letter from the Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Jose Alberto Zambrano Velasco, addressed to Guyana's Foreign Minister, Rashleigh Jackson, who was abroad on official business. The letter stated:

. . . I have the honour of addressing Your Excellency with the purpose of formally notifying the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana as to the decision taken by the Government of the Republic of Venezuela not to extend the enforcement of the Protocol of Port of Spain beyond the 18th June, 1982.

This decision which had already been brought to your attention in previous Government to Government talks is now formalised in compliance with the provision of Article V of the said Protocol.

Likewise, I fulfil the duty of informing the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana through you, its worthy representative, about the firm resolution of the Government of the Republic of Venezuela to seek, through the observance, in good faith, of that established in the Geneva Agreement, a satisfactory solution for the practical settlement of the pending territorial controversy, so that it be settled amicably and peacefully, in a manner acceptable to both parties. . .

Immediately after receiving the Venezuelan notice, Dr. Shahabuddeen handed the Venezuelan Ambassador an acknowledgement of the letter from the Venezuelan Foreign Minister.

During the afternoon of the 11 December, the Guyana Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a statement that it was studying the implications of the Venezuelan notice of termination in the light of the currently evolving circumstances, including statements and pronouncements emanating from Venezuela at that time. The Ministry also reaffirmed that Guyana's policy remained firmly based on the maintenance of good neighbourly relations and the resolution by peaceful means of the controversy raised by the Venezuelan claim that the Arbitral Award of 1899 was invalid.

At the time the Venezuelan Ambassador was delivering his country's notice to Guyana, the Charge d'Affaires of the Venezuelan Embassy in London delivered a note to the British Minister of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth office, Richard Luce, giving formal notice of Venezuela's decision to terminate the Protocol of Port of Spain in June 1982. In accepting the note, the British Minister stated that the British Government considered it important that when the Protocol expired, the Guyanese and Venezuelan Governments would pursue the procedures for arriving at a peaceful settlement provided in the Geneva Agreement, to which Great Britain remained a party and which the British Government fully supported.

In Caracas, the Guyana Charge d'Affaires, Patricia Fung-on and the British Ambassador met with the Venezuelan Foreign Minister and were presented with similar copies of the notice to the Guyana Government.


Commenting on the Venezuelan decision not to renew the Protocol, Dr. Shahabuddeen, the Guyanese Attorney General and acting Foreign Minister, noted that "highly placed persons in Caracas" had taken the view that the Protocol was not valid since it was never ratified by the Venezuelan Congress. He added:

It was only from more recent Venezuelan statements that a clearer picture had emerged. Interestingly, all of these statements related to the question whether the Protocol should be terminated. The notice now served was the last of these recent statements. It acknowledged the validity of the Protocol at the same time it sought to bring it to an end.

Dr. Shahabuddeen pointed out that the Protocol still had six months to run and he expected that during this period Venezuela should desist from actions which were clearly inconsistent with the Protocol.

The Guyana Chronicle of the 14 December 1981 quoted the Venezuelan Ambassador to Guyana, Dr. Garavini, as saying that both Guyana and Venezuela failed to make constructive use of the time frame of the Protocol. The Ambassador pointed out that three basic sets of consideration influenced the Venezuelan Government to end the Protocol. These, he said, were domestic politics, which was of prime importance, the state of international relations, and the state of affairs between Guyana and Venezuela.

Dr. Garavini did not believe that his Government would be moved to exercise the military option even though there were forces in Venezuela advocating such a move. He expressed the hope that the two countries would strive for an early bilateral settlement of the border issue, and observed that even if arbitration had to be resorted to, or moves made to the International Court of Justice, the two Governments would still have to decide on certain substantive matters for the consideration of the arbitrator or the International Court of Justice. It was his view that prolongation of the matter would lead to dangerous emotionalism and nationalism on both sides and could jeopardise the prospects of settlement.


After Venezuela issued its non-renewal notice to Guyana, there were semi-official suggestions in Venezuela that the Government should launch an economic offensive in the Caribbean to win support against Guyana. According to a report published in mid-December in the pro-Government magazine, Infoque, Venezuelan policy makers should pursue this economic offensive as part of the political campaign aimed at winning CARICOM support for their country's claim. The report suggested that since the majority of the Caribbean nations regarded Venezuela as a potential white overlord in their region, it should be in Venezuela's interest to disguise its military intention and concentrate on its "legal" rights to western Essequibo. The magazine also proposed that, in order to prevent the appearance of buying political support, CARICOM Governments should be carefully supplied with apparently respectable legal argument to justify the Venezuelan position. The Campins regime should argue that, firstly, Venezuela did not turn down, as did Guyana, Jamaica's offer to serve as a mediator, and, secondly, Venezuela did not reject the idea of the UN providing a mediator.


In Guyana, the Guyana Chronicle on the 8 January 1982 reported that residents in the Barima-Waini region of the North West District bordering Venezuela were claiming that Venezuelan radio stations were jamming news broadcasts by the Guyana Broadcasting Corporation. As a result the residents were unable to hear any Guyanese news on the local radio.

The role of the USA in the border issue was raised by Nigel Fisher, a Conservative Party Member of the British Parliament, who was on a visit to Guyana as a guest of President Burnham. At a press conference on the 9 January 1982, Fisher said:

I think that the most important country in a matter of this kind is the United States. It has real clout in Venezuela. My hope is that they (the US) will not adopt a pro-Venezuela position in this matter, nor show hostility to Guyana. . . In my view the Venezuelan claim is the flimsiest I have ever come across. It has no legal, moral or whatever base...

On the 21 January 1982, Barbados' Prime Minister, Tom Adams, during talks with President Burnham while on a one-day visit to Guyana, reaffirmed his country's support for Guyana. "Post-colonial boundaries in America, like those in Africa, should be respected," Adams declared.

And on the 29 January, Dominica's Prime Minister, Eugenia Charles, who was leaving Venezuela after a short visit, urged the Venezuelan Government to avoid fighting over the border question. "Venezuela and Guyana should talk out their border differences and avoid fighting at all costs. . . We are determined not to have any disputes between Caribbean countries. . ," she said.

On the 1 February 1982, the Brazilian Foreign Minister, Ramiro Saraiva Guerreiro, who was visiting Guyana, declared that Brazil's position on the Guyana-Venezuela border issue was made clear to both countries and that Brazil "does not expect anything happening that will characterise a negative precedence". He added that Brazil hoped for a peaceful and cooperative solution of the matter, but was not prepared to act as an adjudicator.

Eighteen days later, Guerreiro who was on a two-day visit to Venezuela, stated in Caracas that cooperation projects between Guyana and Brazil in western Essequibo "are irrelevant from the point of view of the controversy between Guyana and Venezuela". The Minister confirmed, according to an IPS report on the 19 February, that Brazil would continue to participate in development programmes with Guyana in western Essequibo.


In an address on the 25 January to the Guyana Parliament -- a session boycotted by the PPP, President Burnham strongly attacked Venezuela for its hostile campaigns against Guyana. Because of the military threat from Venezuela, said Burnham, Guyana would have to further strengthen its defence measures. This statement was made during a period when production in all sectors of the economy was falling rapidly. This was the period, too, when the PNC administration strengthened its ban on a large variety of imported foodstuffs, including wheat flour, a basic staple of the Guyanese population. Burnham also informed Parliament that Guyana would begin an international campaign to inform the world about the spurious nature of the Venezuelan claim.

During the debate on Burnham's address which followed a few days later, the PPP charged that it was not being consulted about the alleged deterioration in Guyana-Venezuela relations, and charged the PNC of using the border issue as a diversionary tactic to justify the imposition of more taxes on the Guyanese people.


In Venezuela, the Christian Revolutionary Youth (JRC), the youth arm of the ruling COPEI, on the 12 February 1982 launched a campaign to reinforce Venezuela's claim to western Essequibo. The campaign intended to mark "Youth Day" in the country, involved the use of the slogan, "RECOVER IT; THE ESSEQUIBO IS OURS". Over 100,000 posters, showing a map with the slogan superimposed over Guyana's Essequibo region, were printed by the JRC. The youth organization also printed the slogan on shirts, leaflets and pamphlets for distribution throughout Venezuela. Its leaders claimed that the JRC, as part of its campaign, would be denouncing the Guyana Government and its relations with the Cuban Government. Its secretary-general, Agustin Berrios, declared that the organization hoped to provide the youth of Venezuela with a "rallying point to unify the new generations (of Venezuela) around a national ideal".


President Burnham dealt with the border issue when he delivered a speech in Georgetown to mark the twelfth anniversary of the achievement of republican status by Guyana on the 23 February 1982. After dealing with the history of the issue, he examined the current situation:

. . . Now that Venezuela has refused to permit automatic renewal of the Protocol, Guyana stand ready as provided by Article VI of the Geneva Agreement to have recourse to any one of the means of settlement provided under Article 33 of the Charter of the United Nations. These include negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement -- obviously by the International Court of Justice, resort to regional agencies or organizations, or other means of settlement mutually agreed by the two parties. One means set out under Article 33 of the Charter, which is closed to Guyana, is resort to the regional agency of the Organisation of American States, for by another Treaty of Washington and on the insistence of Venezuela, Guyana is not and cannot be a member of that organisation as it is at present constituted.

When I paid a State visit to Venezuela on the 2-3 April last year, I proposed to the President of Venezuela that we continue a round of discussions and negotiations with a view to a peaceful solution. Such discussions were to be at the levels of Presidents, Ministers and officials, and I invited the Venezuelan President to return my visit. Though he intimated that Venezuela proposed to exercise its right to terminate the Protocol of Port of Spain, he did not agree to the continuing of dialogue as proposed by me.

What has happened since then is history; the Venezuelan raucous assertion of her claim to western Essequibo; her attempt to block the World Bank's sponsorship of our hydro-power project; the pontifical statement that the hydro-power project is neither suitable for, or in the interest of Guyana; her lobbying of international agencies against investment in, or sponsorship, of projects in western Essequibo; protest to nations and corporations involved or to be involved in economic ventures along with the Government of Guyana in the area; a general campaign of economic aggression; interference in the internal affairs of Guyana; vilification of the Guyana Government and people; repeated violations of our air space; the violation of Guyana's territorial integrity by an invasion into the Guyana portion of Ankoko Island in September 1966 and its continued illegal occupation since that time; and last but not least, her attempt to appropriate Guyana's offshore waters in July 1968.

We know not what other adventures may be indulged in by our neighbour. We hope good sense will prevail. We stand ready to participate in dialogue. We believe in a peaceful resolution of the problems and differences between civilised nations, but it will be the Olympus of folly if we do not prepare for the defence of our territory at all levels and in every field.

This will not be easy and without the attendant sacrifices. We shall have to prepare our differences on the ground. In this context, I refer to the motto of the Guyana People's Militia -- "Every Citizen A Soldier, Every Soldier A Citizen". We shall have to seek every means of telling our story to the world, the story of how a small nation is being pressured; how a nation is being hampered in the development of its resources for the benefit of its people.

It seems a great pity at this stage, at this point of our history, in the circumstances of our economic situation, that we have to divert scarce resources from development to military defence. But unless we defend our patrimony and hold it, there will be nothing to develop. What is at stake is our very survival! What is at stake are the fruits of the revolution -- social, economic, and political -- begun sixteen years ago and hall-marked twelve years ago on the 207th anniversary of that historic revolution started by the great Cuffy.

We do not envy our neighbours their great Liberator, but we too have our hero, an ex-slave. They must not pass, they shall not pass. Not one cuirass! Not a blade of grass!

Within a few days, Defence Bonds will be available for sale. It is the personal duty and obligation of each of us to invest in these bonds, and therefore in the territorial integrity of our country; to invest in the survival of this green land of Guyana; to invest in the ultimate success of the revolution which has brought us so many benefits.

1982 has been designated the "Year of Defence", defence against would-be aggressors and expansionists; defence against economic crises and perils, defence against those would subvert our revolution.

Everyone accepts the need to mobilise in order to preserve the territorial integrity of Guyana, but the effectiveness of this process can be enhanced only by the successful exploitation and mobilisation of our material and economic resources. . .


Burnham's announcement that Defence Bonds would go on sale to raise funds for the defence of Guyana drew a comment from the Special Adviser to the Suriname Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Henk Herenberg, who was in Guyana at the time. He said that the Defence Bonds issue had created some concern in Suriname since it signified the development of a new belligerence by the Guyana Government. However, he hoped that the border issue between Guyana and Venezuela would be settled in a peaceful manner.

Guyana's position received further support from the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), the largest trade union in Guyana. At its 10th Congress held at Rose Hall Estate, in Berbice, the union declared that US imperialism was behind the border issue and noted that a military clash between the two countries could only benefit US monopolies which were beefing up the arms race in the region. The Congress urged both countries to negotiate a just settlement, taking into consideration Guyana's sole inalienable right to the entire area claimed by Venezuela. GAWU further denounced the Reagan regime of the USA for proceeding to arm Venezuela with offensive weapons.

Generally, Guyanese sentiments were totally against the Venezuelan claim, and a popular song entitled "Not a Blade of Grass" became a rallying tune throughout the country. The song, recorded the year before by the calypso group, the Tradewinds, was played numerous times everyday on the radio, and it was soon regarded as Guyana's "second" national anthem.


At the beginning of March 1982, the Defence Bonds scheme went into operation with the Government announcing that a target of 10 million Guyana dollars was set for that month. Lloyd Luckhoo, a prominent lawyer, was appointed to manage the scheme while a number of other persons were appointed as members of the Defence Bonds Committee. Included in this Committee were leading members of the PNC and UF leader, Marcellus Fielden-Singh. The PPP refused to have anything to do with the scheme. As the scheme went into operation, there were numerous complaints that many persons were being coerced by PNC officials to purchase the Defence Bonds, and many workers in the public sector were actually ordered by their superiors to purchase them. Despite big promotional campaigns involving the President and members of the Cabinet in many parts of the country, less than half of the target was met by the end of the month.


On the 30 March 1982 by Finance Minister, Frank Hope, presented the Budget to Parliament and made reference to the problems created by the border issue. He stated:

The Venezuelan Government has not only intensified its economic pressures against us in pursuit of its spurious claim to our land, but it has also been indulging in dangerous adventurism in violating our air space and our territorial integrity. During the past year there were over 80 violations of our air space by Venezuelan aircraft. Their aircraft have penetrated as far as Timehri as they try desperately to gather intelligence about our preparedness and our capability to defend our country. Their military personnel have from time to time violated our borders and actually entered upon our soil. They have been engaged in a flurry of military manoeuvres and activities in areas contiguous with our borders. The squandering of oil money on such activities cannot convert a baseless and immoral claim to a legitimate and just one, but it puts a heavy burden upon our resources and diverts from our developmental purposes. Countering the Venezuelan threat has an absolute priority claim to our time, energies and our resources. The 1982 programme, therefore, takes into account the imperatives of our territorial security. . .


The Guyana Chronicle of the 31 March reported that President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia expressed full support for Guyana on the border issue. Kaunda, according to the paper, told Guyana's High Commissioner to Zambia, Kenneth Short, who was presenting his credentials earlier in the month, that Guyana and Venezuela enjoyed the esteem and friendship of the Zambian people, but after examining the situation, he was moved to express the view that Venezuela must stop "molesting" Guyana.

CARICOM Foreign Ministers meeting in Belize on the 31 March to 1 April again came out in support of Guyana. The Ministers, in reiterating their support, called upon the parties to the Geneva Agreement "to scrupulously adhere to its provisions" and to seek to settle by peaceful means the existing border issue. The meeting also agreed that Guyana's continued development of its resources should not be frustrated while a peaceful solution was being sought. The Guyana delegation, headed by Rashleigh Jackson, assured the meeting that Guyana intended to honour its obligations.

An in Guyana, during the debate on the Budget in Parliament, the PPP assured the nation of its willingness to defend Guyana's territory. PPP Parliamentarian, Ram Karran said that the Party would not "flinch for one moment to defend the territorial integrity of this country".

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In April 1982, Venezuela published what it termed as new "evidence" in support of its case for the nullity of the Arbitral Award of 1899. In Volume 1 Number 4 of Synthesis, an information bulletin published by the Information Service of the Venezuelan Embassy in Guyana, an entire chapter of the book, The International Arbitral Process, supporting the Venezuelan position was reproduced. The book was originally published in 1979 by J. Gillis Wetter, a Swedish scholar and lawyer whom the information bulletin described as having "extraordinary experience in arbitral awards". Synthesis claimed that Gillis' book "constitutes a true encyclopaedia of the arbitral process in all its aspects".

The following is the chapter which was reproduced in Synthesis:


An analysis of the facts and the contentions of Venezuela would seem to indicate three categories of grounds on which a claim for nullity of the Award may be based. In reverse order of gravity, they may be grouped as follows: (a) Two grounds are of such a nature that they can be resolved only by a retrial on the merits; (b) four grounds, to employ a concept current in English law, relate to matters which make the Award "bad on its face"; while, lastly, (c) two grounds are such as to make the Award intrinsically null and void. The following discussion for the sake of convenience will be arranged according to this classification of the issues.

It will be seen that none of the items are such that a waiver of them could be deemed to have occurred in the course of the proceedings, for they were not known to Venezuela before the Award was rendered, and in most respects they were revealed, or possible to discover, only in recent years. Only the circumstances which make the Award "bad on its face" are such that a doctrine of more challengeability, as distinct from nullity, could operate as debarring Venezuela from pursuing its claim.


(i) False evidence. Venezuela contends, on the basis of newly discovered evidence, that some of the immediately relevant maps presented to the Tribunal, and which may have influenced the outcome, were falsified in that the Schomburgk line was not correctly depicted, or qualifying notes were deleted. . .

(ii) Improper Relationship Between British Counsel and British Arbitrators.
The letters sent by Sir Richard Webster to Lord Salisbury and Mr. Joseph Chamberlain . . . suggest that an improper relationship may have existed between Great Britain's Leading Counsel and the British Arbitrators.

No attempt has been made by the author to present or analyze in full these bases for supporting a claim of nullity of the Award. Their nature is such that they require, for their proper examination, a retrial on the merits.


The Award shows on its face four defects, each of which may be relied upon as a separate ground for nullity. The four of them in combination lend unusually strong support to such a claim.

(i) No Reasons. First, the Award gives no reasons, which in international practice, both before and after 1899, has been deemed to be necessary in like proceedings. It is true that the Rules of Procedure determined by the Tribunal to govern the proceeding did not require reasons to be given, and it may conceivably be argued that this may therefore be a waiver item. However, significantly, Mr. de Martens' proposal to the Hague Peace Conference in the summer of 1899 that reasons may be omitted, based on those Rules, was not accepted but explicitly rejected. Nor is there any indication in that record about the matter ever having been discussed. It may be assumed that both parties would have been surprised if this feature of the Rules of Procedure had been explicitly discussed in open court rather than being presented as an implied construction of one of the 24 Rules.

The effect of the absence of reasons is enhanced by the remarkably short time allowed for deliberation; from a Wednesday afternoon until the following Monday night, the Award being issued on Tuesday, October 3, 1899.

(ii) No Ascertainment of 1814 Boundary. Second, Article III of the Treaty gave the Tribunal two separate and distinct tasks: that of ascertaining the boundary line of 1814 and that of determining a boundary. While the Tribunal stated in the Award that the Arbitrators ". . . have investigated and ascertained the extent of the territories belonging to or that might lawfully be claimed by the United Netherlands or by the Kingdom of Spain respectively at the time of the acquisition by Great Britain of the Colony of British Guiana", the mere inclusion of such an assertion evidently does not amount to a "discharge of the task". Ex-President Harrison's forceful argument on 21 September 1899 may be referred to in this context:

Now we come to Article III we have the duties of the Tribunal pointed out. They "shall investigate and ascertain the extent of the territories belonging to or that might lawfully be claimed by the United Netherlands or by the Kingdom of Spain respectively at the time of the acquisition by Great Britain of the Colony of British Guiana, and shall determine the boundary between the Colony of British Guiana and the United States of Venezuela".

Now, Mr. President, that clause introduces the Netherlands and Spain. It does not declare simply that they shall find the boundary between the existing claimants, but they are to ascertain the extent of the territories belonging to or that might lawfully be claimed by the Netherlands or the Kingdom of Spain at the time of this acquisition. Now, Mr. President, there is a duty laid upon this commission to do that; a duty that the Tribunal cannot put off, manifestly. The duty was not laid upon the Tribunal for nothing. It was not intended that when you had laboriously gone through this long historical inquiry and had traced the title of Spain down to 1814, a period when the titles had each a new representative, and then when you had gone through all that, to throw it to the winds.

A large part of the evidence that has been accumulated here looks to that question. The counsel have searched the records at the Hague and at Seville and at Madrid in order to set before this Tribunal as fully as they might, the story of Spanish discovery, of the Dutch war, of the Dutch settlement of Guiana, of the Treaty of Munster, and all the long story between the years 1648 and 1814. (Verbatim Records, 3047.)

Attention was devoted during the oral hearings to the issue whether or not the boundary of 1814 as ascertained by the Tribunal would be determinative of the boundary to be laid down, and emphasis was put on the significance of the deletion from an earlier draft of Article III of the preposition "thereupon", connecting the ascertainment leg of the sentence with that dealing with the determination of the boundary line (Verbatim Records, 3090-3091). Whatever view is taken of the cogency of the arguments presented by both sides on this issue, it must be recognized as immaterial, because Sir Robert Reid admitted that to the extent that the Tribunal would find a co-terminous boundary existing in 1814, subject to other Articles of the Treaty, it would be preclusive (an important caveat: annex No. 5; Verbatim Records, 2246); moreover, in his concluding argument, Sir Richard Webster expressly waived reliance on the rule of prescription (annex No. 6). Particularly in the light of this circumstance, it is clear that the Tribunal committed a serious dereliction of its duties by ignoring to carry out one of the two functions entrusted to it, and no doubt is a valid ground for a nullity claim.

(iii) Provisions on Free Navigation. The third point on which the Award is bad on its face is the inclusion of provisions respecting free navigation on the Barima and Amakuru Rivers, i.e the last full paragraph of the Award.

While the Tribunal was to determine a boundary within the defined limits, and while its freedom to lay down a line between the two extremes, rather than having to choose merely between two alternative claims was never questioned by either party, neither the Treaty, nor the submissions of the parties offered any support for such an extraordinary action ultra vires. Neither party had presented a claim to such effect, much less argued their cases on such a basis, nor indeed had the Tribunal itself even raised the point during the oral hearings. It was a blind unauthorized excursion into an area wholly outside the conceptions of the draftsmen of the Treaty, the parties and their counsel. There could not have been any doubts in the minds of those negotiating the Treaty that the Tribunal was empowered only to determine the extent of territorial sovereignty of the parties and not to go one step beyond its mandate by creating limitations upon such sovereignty as was recognized and awarded. It is possible to take the view that the effect of such an exces de pouvoir would be merely to nullify the prescriptions made by the Tribunal on free navigation; but the inclusion of the ruling may have been a material element in the total result arrived at by the Tribunal and it therefore affects the Award in toto. Moreover, the act in excess of jurisdiction is so flagrant that it must be treated as a separate and self-contained ground for nullity...

(iv) Delimitation of Boundaries of States not parties to the Arbitration. A fourth point on which the Award is bad on its face is that it purported to delimit boundaries other than that at issue, i.e. in relation to Brazil and Dutch Guiana (Surinam). Thus while the Tribunal stated that "the line of delimitation fixed by the Award shall be subject and without prejudice to any question now existing or which may arise to be determined between the Government of Her Britannic Majesty and the Republic of Brazil or between the latter Republic and the United States of Venezuela", the purported attempt to determine boundaries outside the Tribunal's jurisdiction, which apparently was subsequently relied upon by Great Britain, was expressly denounced by H.M. Victor-Emmanuel III, King of Italy, in his Award of 6 June 1904 between Great Britain and Brazil, in which he ruled ". . . that the Arbitral decision of the 3rd October, 1899 delivered by the Anglo-American Tribunal, settling the dispute between Great Britain and Venezuela concerning the disputed territory and which was decided in favour of the former, cannot be involved as claim against Brazil which was not a party to the proceedings. . ."

While the Award clearly is a nullity insofar as it purports to delimit boundaries outside the submission, and even affecting States which were not parties to the arbitration, the defect is so grave that it alone supports the claim of Venezuela that the Award is null and void in toto, and was ab initio.


Two interrelated grounds supporting Venezuela's contention of nullity are pivotal, i.e., that the conduct of the President of the Tribunal, and the tacit acquiescence by the four arbitrators therein, were such as to nullify the Award.

It must be stressed at the outset that Venezuela does not even allege that the President of the Tribunal personally committed an act of corruption. The most that is stated on this score is that circumstantial evidence may indicate that he was privy to a secret political understanding between Russia and Great Britain and that, if so, in discharging his duties as an arbitrator, he acted in furtherance of political interests of his own nation. There is no evidence on record which proves such an allegation (but circumstantial evidence, of which a report has been omitted here, has been adduced by Venezuelan experts), and it is evident that the burden of proof must lie on the party which contends that such a wrong-doing occurred.

Therefore the issue is narrowed to the question (i) whether the President, in making the representations that he did separately to the American arbitrators and to Lord Justice Collins, committed an act of impropriety such that one may justly speak of a grave dereliction of his duties as an arbitrator and of coercion, or extortion, of the other members of the Tribunal, (ii) whether these circumstances must result in making the Award null and void ab initio, and (iii) whether, in addition, the fact that the arbitrators, by acceding to the compromise implying that they voted against their own respective convictions, viewed separately, has such an effect.

Here we tread upon an area which is the most difficult and the most sensitive in the processes of arbitral and judicial decision-making.

There need not be any uncertainty as to what the relevant facts were, because they may be taken to be truly stated by Mr. Mallet-Prevost and by Lord Russell. Professor de Martens saw the two American arbitrators and Lord Justice Collins separately, stating that unless they voted affirmatively on a compromise boundary designed by de Martens, he would join his vote to those of the other two arbitrators with the effect of making Venezuela or Great Britain, as the case may be, lose substantial territory. It appears from the documents on record that each of the two American arbitrators, and the two British arbitrators jointly, held somewhat different views on the exact delineation of the boundary that should be established. It also appears, however, that all of them felt constrained to accept the line proposed by the President for fear that otherwise Venezuela or Great Britain, as the case may be, would be deprived of sovereignty over substantial pieces of territory. It also is inherently evident that Professor de Martens himself did not arrive at his compromise line by a process of legal reasoning which he was prepared to expound, or of which he was convinced, for if that were so, he could not have threatened to join one extreme award line or the other.

Is it wrong to compromise? It may of course be argued that the process of adjusting views and conclusions tentatively formulated by the minds of decision-makers is the very basis of the work of any judicial or arbitral body. A refusal to change any notion once formed, however tentatively, would be the true mark of an undeveloped mind and indeed constitute a denial of what the entire judicial and arbitral process is about. Another argument that can well be made is that a decision per se has a certain value, as compared to a non liquet. These circumstances may be introduced in an argument concerned with purely moral aspects to exculpate the actions of the four arbitrators other that de Martens.

There are those who contend and seek to propound that compromise on territorial issues is not only inevitable but wise. . . A very prominent expert, Professor Jennings, recently pronounced himself in somewhat the same vein, speaking of the Award in the Argentine-Chile Arbitration of 1966:

The Award, since it decides on a line that is somewhere between the two lines claimed by the parties, may be represented as a compromise of the kind that is seemingly characteristic of this type of arbitration. Such a characterization would do less than justice to the wisdom and integrity of the Award. In such cases there is usually some legal truth on both sides of the argument and what seems to the uninstructed eye to be a mere compromise may in fact be an attempt to do justice to the weight and persuasiveness of the argument on one side and on the other. It is a popular fallacy to suppose that in any law suit one side must wholly "win" and the other wholly "lose". (In International Disputes: The Legal Aspects, 324 [1972]).

Again, the "uninstructed eye" need not be left in a state of darkness, for if there are sound legal reasons for laying a boundary one way or the other, it is not beyond the wit of man to explain them, and it is the rule rather than the exception to reach a result which does not accord with either of the parties' claims, extreme as they often are. The distinction lies in the process of reasoning by which the result is arrived at, whether it be avowed or secret.

The extraordinary and spectacular "consultations" which took place among Chief Justice Fuller, Mr. Justice Brewer and Mr. Mallet-Prevost, and between General Harrison and Mr. Mallet-Prevost, add another dark dimension to the proceedings of the Venezuela-Guyana case. Here, a former President of the United States, acting as Leading Counsel to Venezuela, and two members of the United States Supreme Court saw fit to enter into an agreement (without consultation by counsel with his client) on how some members of the arbitral tribunal should vote on the sovereign rights of an independent nation over its territory, and the delimitation of the (admittedly co-terminous) boundary between that territory and the adjacent territory of a British colony. Thus the proceeding culminated and was brought to an end in the crescendo of acts constituting an ugly perversion of the fundamental elements of the judicial -- and arbitral -- process as it is known in the civilized world.

This may be the place to recall a celebrated instance in which a most distinguished arbitrator changed his opinion and thus made it possible for a valid award, rather than a non liquet, to be issued. In the Rann of Kutch case, the arbitrator nominated by Pakistan, H.E. Nasrollah Entezam, at an early stage of the deliberations considered that about half of the disputed territory should be awarded to Pakistan. The arbitrator nominated by India, Judge Ales Bebler, similarly filed a draft opinion, according to which all the disputed territory would be awarded to India. Mr. Bebler's opinion became a dissenting opinion as Mr. Entezam eventually joined the Chairman in endorsing the Chairman's opinion, pursuant to which about 90 percent of the territory was awarded to India and the remainder to Pakistan.

However, at the request of Mr. Entezam, the Tribunal permitted his preliminary opinion to appear on pages 846-887 of the Award under the style of "Proposal of Mr. Nasrollah Entezam (submitted on 17 November 1967)". . .

There is, however, an appreciable distinction between the situation where an arbitrator changes his mind for the reason that he becomes convinced of the correctness of a fully motivated, different opinion, and the character of the deliberations before the Venezuela-Guyana Tribunal, hurriedly conducted in a period of less than a week. There is also a difference between the situation where a number of men gradually modify their conclusions with a view of reaching an end result which is satisfactory and effective, and a case where they do so under a pronounced threat by an arbitrary President acting as an undisguised negotiator in furtherance of the single-minded goal of producing a unanimous award.

There is a powerful moral and legal support for arguing that a decisions reached in such circumstances ought not to be recognized and upheld in international law but should be deemed to partake of so serious defects as to be null and void ab initio. To view it otherwise would be tantamount to sanctioning the very negation of elementary principles of international justice.


The disappointment of a legal scholar in seeing an act of injustice being perpetrated is of little significance; so are the details of some procedural wrongdoings in this case, viewed in the present time perspective, eighty years having elapsed since the rendering of the Award. Whether Venezuela has been deprived of territory rightfully belonging to her, it is not possible to say -- for that question is one of substance which has not been examined here. The sole issue relevant in the present inquiry is that of the validity or nullity of the Award of 3 October 1899. If the Award is null and void, the territorial claims of the two contending nations in law revert to the status quo ante the Treaty, even though in all likelihood the critical time, as suggested earlier, for certain purposes may lie at the date of the nullity claim. In the circumstances, the substantive territorial issue may not now even be justiciable or arbitrable, given its magnitude and political impact.

But there is an overpowering reason why the separate and distinct issue of the validity of the Award is of urgent moment to the present world community. That is the fact that South America does not believe in arbitration and forms a great white spot on the maps depicting adherence to modern principles and conventions of arbitration. Only four Latin American states have ratified the 1958 New York Convention (Chile, Cuba, Ecuador and Mexico) and the 1975 OAS Convention (Chile, Panama, Paraguay and Uruguay). Guyana alone has ratified the ICSID Convention, and the municipal laws of most Latin American nations do not recognize arbitration clauses as ousting the jurisdiction of the local courts. . .

It is often argued that the works of Dr. Calvo, published about a century ago, are responsible for this negative attitude to arbitration. A far more plausible reason is that Latin America has suffered from the international arbitral process in public international law and that this circumstance has inspired suspicion of arbitration as such. If one looks at the record of the Venezuela-Guyana Arbitration, such a credibility gap is eminently justified, and these proceedings were not the only unhappy ones to which Venezuela was a party, not to speak of the historical experience of other Latin American nations.

Mr. Donald Straus, in his keynote address to the Sixth Congress on International Commercial Arbitration in Mexico City in March 1978, conceived of a concerted marketing effort as required to induce Latin America to join with the rest of the world in promoting the cause of arbitration. He said in his summation:

Arbitration provides the best method for settling international commercial disputes. In fact, it is the only readily available method that is impartial, widely acceptable, and enforceable in most parts of the world. The basic ingredients for successful arbitration have been developed, in no small measure due to the efforts of this and previous Congresses and the efforts of the people who are responsible for them. These basic ingredients are: first of all, a cadre of skilled and respected arbitrators, secondly, a convention for the recognition and enforceability of arbitration agreements and awards, thirdly, a selection of expertly written rules of procedure, and fourthly, a rapidly developing network of arbitration institutions for administration of cases and the promotion of arbitration.

While great progress has been made, arbitration is still under-utilized. It is suggested that the reasons for this under-utilization are that arbitration has been poorly packaged and marketed, is poorly understood, and the options are too confusing to the practical business man.

It is further suggested that improved marketing will require wide dissemination of information about arbitration, and simplification and unification of the available choices.

If in this Congress we can teach one another how better to accomplish these objectives and to market the advantages of arbitration, we will have made good use of our time.

Mr. Straus' remarks were both cogent and timely. But there is a deeper problem which must first be resolved. The credibility gap must be bridged.

It is submitted that there is only one way in which Latin American confidence in the international arbitral process may be restored.

That is by a demonstration that justice ultimately can and will be done through the process of arbitration. A singular opportunity to achieve such a result is to submit the issue of the validity of the Venezuela-Guyana Award of 3 October 1899 to trial. One might conceive of the International Court of Justice as being the proper forum for such an examination. But a far more appropriate and effective method would be to convene, by agreement between the States concerned, an ad hoc arbitration tribunal to rule on the validity of the Award. For if it is contended that an arbitral miscarriage of justice has been perpetrated, there should be, and there could by agreement be created, an arbitral remedy.

The sole important issue is that of validity or nullity; not the substantive territorial questions which would arise, were nullity to be declared. For as has been observed above, even to the extent that those issues are justiciable or arbitrable, they should not be dealt with until after the preliminary issue has been finally and properly determined. And indeed, they ought preferably to be disposed of by processes of negotiation and conciliation rather than arbitration. But the arbitral remedy must come first, international arbitration must be given a chance to demonstrate its strength in high quality proceedings, and one must not leave undisturbed a historic record tainted by perversion of the arbitral process.

In the profound sense now indicated -- i.e., the credibility and future of the international arbitral process as such in the greater part of Latin America -- arbitration itself is still on trial in the singularly important Venezuela-Guyana case, in which it is not too late to hope that justice will ultimately be done.

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On the 2 April 1982, Argentina launched a full scale invasion of the Falkland Islands. Argentina had for long claimed the Falklands (or Malvinas) as their territory and always insisted that the islands had been seized and occupied by the British since the early nineteenth century. The Guyana Government was one of the first to comment on the Argentine invasion. On the same day the invasion occurred, the Government in a statement expressed full support for Britain while roundly condemning Argentina. It also called for "an urgent return to diplomatic dialogue for the peaceful settlement of any issues", and said it recognized the full right of the people of the Falklands to self-determination as well as to the integrity of their territory.

In contrast to the Guyana position, Venezuela came out strongly in support of the Argentine invasion. In a statement issued on the 5 April in Caracas by Foreign Minister, Jose Zambrano Velasco, the Venezuelan Government also criticised a UN resolution of the previous day calling upon Argentina to withdraw its forces from the islands. The statement referred to Argentina's action as a "just reclamation" and contended that Venezuela itself was a "victim of the territorial plunder by colonial power". In relation to a resolution which had been adopted by the UN Security Council, the statement insisted that the resolution "ignored the just motivation of Argentina and the roots of the problem". Venezuela, however, called for "a peaceful and practical solution" to the conflict.


With Argentine and British forces locked in battle for the Falklands, a Guyana News Agency (GNA) report of the 16 April claimed that prominent Venezuelan citizens, including a former Defence Minister and a former Interior Minister, were advocating a military invasion of Guyana.

In a debate on the Falklands war in the British Parliament on the 14 April, the Guyana-Venezuela border issue formed part of the discussion. The leader of the British Labour Party, Michael Foot, claimed that Guyanese had every right to fear possible aggressive action by Venezuela in the light of the invasion of the Falklands by Argentina. Drawing the similarities of the Falkland issue to the Guyana-Venezuela border issue, Foot said, "If the excuses for the Falklands invasion were to be proved, then indeed, Guyana would have every reason to be afraid." He added, "There is all the more reason to fear when the people of Guyana read . . . of special arrangements now being made by the United States Government for the sale of jets to Venezuela..."

In Venezuela, the strongest demand for the invasion of Guyana came from the 65-year old Miguel Angel Capriles, the millionaire owner of the mass circulating newspaper, Ultimas Noticias. Appearing on television on the evening of the 12 April, Capriles urged Venezuela to take advantage of the situation created by Argentina's invasion of the Falklands to invade Essequibo immediately. Capriles argued that an invasion of Essequibo would be useful since President Campins needed a situation to boost his popularity. He added that he longed for the day to come "when in Venezuela sooner or later (and I hope it is sooner than later) we wake up one morning to the sound of radio and television announcing that the headwaters of the Essequibo had been taken." He contended that there was "nothing which galvanises a people more than a territorial claim".

The border issue received further international attention at the beginning of April during the Third Conference on Peace and Sovereignty of Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean, held in San Jose, Costa Rica. The Conference, sponsored by the World Peace Council, was attended by Harry Ramdass, the Secretary of the Guyana Peace Council. On the 3 April, the Final Declaration of the Conference stated, inter alia:

The delegations of Venezuela and Guyana to the Third Conference of Peace and Sovereignty of Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean, wish to inform Latin American and world public opinion that the struggle due to the Venezuelan claim to the Essequibo region can be settled exclusively through dialogue and negotiations between the two countries involved. Only if this fails should international organisations be called upon. By all means a military confrontation must be avoided as this would be contrary to our peoples' desire for liberty and peace.

We are also aware that a military conflict will only benefit imperialism, transnational companies and the war mongers of the United States. . .

Commenting on the role of the USA in the Falklands war and the Guyana-Venezuela border issue, the columnist, "Dargan", writing in the Guyana Chronicle on the 20 April 1982, stated:

. . .If the United States striving for peace in the Falklands crisis is motivated by the principle that invasion, representing international lawlessness, is to be condemned wherever such lawlessness occurs, then the threat to Guyana should, in principle, be also condemned by the US. But the supply of sophisticated arms to Venezuela is not condemnation. It is aiding and abetting the proclaimed invader. . .

The invasion of the Falklands has been rightly condemned by the United States of America, but the threatened invasion of Guyana has not been correspondingly condemned. Instead of condemnation, the supply of sophisticated arms to Venezuela continues. . .


By this time much publicity was being given to the sale of Defence Premium Bonds in Guyana. Despite claims by the Government that there was enthusiastic response to the purchase of these bonds, a Guyana Chronicle editorial on the 20 April 1982 complained that many Guyanese who were political supporters of the opposition were refusing to make purchases. The newspaper, however, claimed that the Defence Bonds scheme had "given a resounding answer both to the Venezuelan militarists and to those Guyanese who have not yet seen the overwhelming necessity of firm national unity in defence of our territorial integrity. . ."

Another editorial in the same newspaper on the 24 April again commented on the sale of Defence Bonds:

. . .The more thoughtless among us would argue that Venezuela would be prevented by international opinion from successfully seizing a substantial part of our territory.

The example of the Falklands ought to dispel any such illusions, for neither Britain's real military and naval power nor the weight of international opinion prevented Argentina from invading the Falkland Islands.

If we do not rapidly develop, by any means necessary, the will and capacity to defend ourselves, it is clear that when the Protocol of Port of Spain comes to an end in June, there would be nothing to prevent us coming under military attack from Venezuela.

The short-sighted argue that the Premium Bonds Scheme will not generate enough funds to pay for successful defence of our border.

Well, it certainly won't if we who have most to gain from their success refuse to buy them in sufficient quantities.

We clearly cannot defend ourselves on borrowed funds, since foreign aid already constitutes some 50% of our annual capital investment, and the money we pay to service our debts represents over 25% of our total domestic production.

These defence bonds are therefore the surest and most honourable way of raising funds for our own defence. They are actually a way of saving. Saving increases our economic strength. Economic strength not only increases our capacity to defend ourselves from invasion, but also to develop our material resources for the benefit of our people. . .

Towards the end of April 1982, the Home Oil Company of the USA which was prospecting in the Takutu Basin in the Rupununi district of the Essequibo, announced that it had discovered oil. This announcement was immediately used by PNC spokesmen in boosting the Government's propaganda war against Venezuela and to urge Guyanese to purchase Defence Bonds. The propaganda used by these spokesmen claimed that Argentina invaded the Falklands because oil was discovered there; similarly, now that oil was discovered in the Essequibo region, Venezuela, which was supporting Argentina's position, could invade Guyana and seize the Essequibo after the lapse of the Protocol of Port of Spain. Hence, according to this argument, Guyanese should purchase Defence Bonds to assist in the defence of the country.


Meanwhile, it was announced in Caracas on the 26 April that the Venezuelan Government had suspended the purchase of F-16 and Hawk Trainers fighter aircraft from the USA and Britain respectively. The COPEI administration had asked Congress to approve a 300 million (US) dollars loan to start paying for the planes, but opponents of the deal cited recently discovered faults in the F-16 planes and Britain's dispute with Argentina in their bid to have the purchase contracts cancelled. The Venezuelan Defence Minister, Bernado Leal Puchi, had already signed the contracts, but they would not come into force until the first payments were made.

Nevertheless, Venezuelan Government officials were confident that the F-16 deal would be approved eventually, but greater doubts surrounded the purchase of the Hawker Trainer aircraft from Britain. Venezuelan Congressmen urged the Government to cancel the contract with Britain as a show of support for Argentina in the dispute over the Falklands. Spokesmen for the opposition parties pointed out that with Venezuela supporting Argentina, Britain might not supply spares for the aircraft if Venezuela should press its claim to the Essequibo region. Although not suggesting that Venezuela should follow the example of Argentina in using force, they said that Britain might become involved in negotiations and it would be dangerous to rely on that country for Venezuela's military equipment.


With certain political groups in Venezuela demanding an invasion of Essequibo, the Venezuelan Government issued a statement that it intended to settle the border issue by peaceful means. In response to this statement, the Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC) on the 27 April 1982 made the following comment after a meeting in Barbados:

The President and Executive Officers of the Caribbean Conference of Churches, meeting here in Barbados today, welcome the denial by Venezuela of a press report . . . that there was the likelihood of an imminent invasion of Guyana by Venezuelan military forces...

The CCC has noted the assurances given by the accredited Venezuelan Ambassadors to Guyana and Barbados respectively that the Government in Caracas has no intention of resorting to force in settling the territorial dispute with Guyana, and further, that provision exists for the dispute to be peacefully resolved under the terms of the Geneva Accord. . .


Meanwhile, the English newspaper, the Guardian, on the 27 April reported that Brazilian intelligence sources revealed that Venezuelan troops were being massed close to the Guyana border and that an invasion was imminent. On the same day, the Venezuelan Ambassador in Guyana, Dr. Sadio Garavini, dismissed the report and said that he had no knowledge of any troop build-up on the border, but claimed that the presence of troops within the proximity of the Guyana border could be part of the routine military exercises undertaken by the Venezuelan Government. Garavini declared that the report must be analysed within the context of a growing hysteria gripping the world since the Argentine invasion of the Falklands. He emphasized that the Venezuelan Government was committed to a peaceful resolution of the border problem but recognized that this would be a difficult process. He made no apologies for the hysteria being built up in what he termed the "yellow press" in Caracas, and noted that the Government could not stop their bellicose utterances which, in no way, expressed the views of his Government.

In Caracas, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry confirmed that the troop movement on the border was indeed taking place, but insisted that it was part of the country's normal security initiatives.

However, the Guyana Chronicle of the following day claimed that the report of "imminent invasion" was causing little alarm in military circles in Guyana and claimed that Guyanese armed forces were in a state of readiness. The paper added that President Burnham, during his speeches to promote the sale of Defence Bonds, had been alerting Guyanese to the need for a state of preparedness. Further, the paper added that "Venezuelan contempt for international conventions is evident from its ready and unconditional support of Argentina. It demonstrates that no restraining principles would operate if Campins or any General acting on his own desires to launch an attack". However, the state-owned paper failed to note that many other countries were expressing support for Argentina in the Falklands crisis.

A Guyana Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement on the Guardian report was issued on the 28 April. It said that the Guyana Government was seriously concerned about the possibility of an invasion, but indicated that further information and clarifications were being sought through diplomatic and other channels. The statement emphasized:

The current international and hemispheric situation especially following the invasion of the Falkland Islands on April 2 by the armed forces of Argentina, carried grave implications for Guyana and highlighted the need for the international community to vigorously oppose the use of force as a means of settling disputes and controversies between states in the hemisphere, no less than between states in the world. . ."

Within two days after it was confirmed that there were indeed troop movements on the border, the Guyana Government made a number of diplomatic moves to prepare against the possibility of a military invasion. The country's Permanent Representative at the UN, Noel Sinclair, held discussions with Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar, and later spoke with the current Security Council President, Ambassador Kamanda Wa Kamanda of Zaire. The two UN officials were brought up to date on the threat to Guyana's sovereignty and territorial integrity and on the massing of Venezuelan troops on the border. After these meetings, the Secretary-General called in the Venezuelan Permanent Representative to the UN, Alberto Martini Urdenata, for discussions.

Back in Guyana, the Foreign Affairs Ministry claimed that in its analysis of the coverage of the troop movement by the Venezuelan media, an attempt was made to hide from the Venezuelan public the report of the British newspaper, the Guardian, about the possible imminent attack on Guyana. The Ministry stated that while reporting the denials by Venezuela's Ambassadors in Guyana and Barbados, the Venezuelan media seemed bent on giving the impression that they were made in reply to statements by Guyana's President Forbes Burnham and Prime Minister Ptolomy Reid.

As a result of the threat from Venezuela, the Guyana Government announced that it would be establishing a Civil Defence Committee and a National Emergency Committee. The Emergency Committee would be concerned with identifying and making an inventory of the location of certain strategic resources such as food, fuel, vehicles and equipment. This Committee would facilitate the easy and early availability of resources required for the essential services in the event of an outbreak of hostilities. On the other hand, the Civil Defence Committee would train people for fighting fires, rendering first-aid, dealing with floods and evacuating communities where necessary.

The Guyana Chronicle of the 29 April 1982 revealed that the Chief of Staff of the GDF, Brigadier Norman Mc Lean, and GDF Commander, Colonel David Granger, disclosed that the Venezuelan Air Force had already violated Guyana's air space 25 times for the year. The Army officials stated that the "systematic reconnaissance" of airstrips and military installations including National Service Centres, was carried out by the Venezuelans who "used military aircraft for obviously military purposes". They also claimed that many of the violations involved the overflying of the oil drilling operations in the Rupununi. According to Mc Lean and Granger, the Venezuelans themselves confirmed the violations by publishing in the Venezuelan newspapers photographs taken, according to the newspapers themselves, by "high-flying spy planes"; and on one occasion, they published photographs of the rig drilling for oil with the caption claiming that "a Canadian firm" was pumping "Venezuelan oil" with "Burnham's blessings".

The Venezuelan news agency, Venpres, also on the 29 April reported that the acting Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Oswaldo Paez Pumar, and the Permanent Representative to the UN, Alberto Martini Urdenata, suggested that a peaceful solution would be found to the territorial dispute. Pumar declared that Venezuela was not preparing for war in the Essequibo while the UN Permanent Representative was quoted by the news agency as saying after he had met with the UN Secretary General: "We call upon the Guyana Government to, once and for all, and in a definitive manner, sit down at the negotiating table with us so that we may find a practical and peaceful solution to the outstanding claim."

Despite the fears of a Venezuelan invasion being publicly expressed by the Guyana Government, it was apparent that many Guyanese, faced with severe economic pressures, were not taking the matter seriously, as the Government wanted them to do. In a front page comment headlined "Melody of Destruction?", the Guyana Chronicle of the 30 April expressed concern on this lack of seriousness displayed by many Guyanese:

We are somewhat distressed by those who fail to grasp the seriousness of our present situation.

We are not necessarily worried by the jokes that the Venezuelans might at least bring some cheese and flour. A fertile sense of humour has been known to flourish amidst the grim reality of the battlefield. What bothers us is when people seem to believe that an invasion by Venezuela would, for one reason or another, not affect them. . .


The WPA issued the following statement on the 29 April on the reported Venezuelan troop movement on the border:

If an unusual number of Venezuelan troops are massed on the Guyana borders at this time, whether with aggressive intentions or not, the WPA regards this as an act of provocation of a small country by a big country. WPA notes that the Government is studying the reported troop movement and demands early publication of its findings. . . At this time when Guyanese may be in grave danger, the WPA urges once again that the processes for a peaceful solution of the border conflict allowed by the Protocol and the Geneva Agreement be resorted to with all speed. Despite the war hysteria and the accusations of war hysteria on both sides of the border, we regard as positive the fact that neither party to the dispute, the Guyana Government and the Venezuelan Government, has indicated publicly any unwillingness to agree to a peaceful means of settlement. A statement of some authority should come from Guyana's Ambassador and military attache in Caracas.

Later on the same day this statement was issued, the WPA announced that "an official of the Venezuelan Embassy had flatly denied any warlike intentions and that their representative at the UN had communicated this to the Secretary General of the United Nations Organization".

The PPP in a comment published in the Mirror of the 2 May 1982 claimed that ". . .the PNC is escalating the verbal hostilities no doubt to give it a convenient lever to stifle workers' demands... The PPP is of the view that while the nation must be prepared for any eventuality, including military action, . . . a military clash between Guyana and Venezuela would be disastrous. . ." The PPP observed that since April 1981 it proposed that there should be a full debate on the border issue in Parliament, but this had still not yet been done.


May Day 1982 saw President Burnham addressing a rally at the National Park in Georgetown. In the course of his speech he cautioned that Venezuelan denials of reported invasion plans should not be taken seriously and that "though we hope for the best, we must prepare for the worst". He added that ". . .we cannot accept the word of a people who seek to subvert our citizens in the western Essequibo, who continuously violate our air space, and who have blocked the development of the hydro-power scheme in the Mazaruni".

Dealing for the first time with the consistent denials by Venezuelan officials that the purported military exercises were the preparation for an invasion, Burnham explained that Venezuela had ignored Guyana's proposals for bilateral talks and had instead announced, contrary to the spirit of the Caracas Summit of April 1981, its refusal to renew the Protocol of Port of Spain. What was worse, he revealed, was that Venezuela, mounting a military exercise close to the border and calling it Operation Carabobo, could only have done so "to terrorise or to invade us".

He pointed out that Venezuela's vocal and unconditional support of Argentina signalled clearly that country's contempt for international agreements; hence, its assurances of peace could not be taken at face value. He described the numerous calls by elements in Venezuela for the invasion to take place as sufficient cause for a general alertness in Guyana. He explained that the discovery of oil in the Takutu area had moved warlike Venezuelans to a greater frenzy and, referring to the defence bonds scheme, added, "Every bond we buy is a nail in the coffin of Venezuelan imperialism and aggression."


With war hysteria mounting daily, an interesting development occurred when the Guyana Chronicle of the 4 May carried an article stating that the religious cult known as the House of Israel was a military organization and was ready to die for Guyana. The cult, headed by a black American fugitive, David Hill, but known in Guyana as Rabbi Washington, openly gave support to the PNC, and anti-PNC organisations had always accused it of using thuggery and violence openly to break up their public meetings. In the newspaper article, Rabbi Washington was quoted as saying that his organisation was receiving military training for the past six years. This statement by the House of Israel leader was in direct contradiction of previous statements by the Guyana Government, in answer to queries, that the cult was not receiving any military training.


The Guyana Chronicle of the 6 May 1982 in an article headlined, "VENEZUELAN OFFENSIVE MORE MENACING -- Bribing Guyanese in Border Region", carried the following story:

The Venezuelan offensive in the border region has become more menacing with the strengthening of military bases there. And what is worse, intensified efforts at seducing Guyanese citizens living in the disputed zone are being made.

Reports from the Upper North West indicating devious attempts at bribing and brainwashing residents there have been confirmed by sources in Georgetown who explained that these moves were nothing new on the part of the enemy.

Residents in the area, whose ethnic and linguistic ties with Amerindians in the Venezuelan villages nearby ensure frequent traffic, have been repeatedly told by Venezuelan representatives that they should begin to consider themselves Venezuelans since their relatives belonged to the other side.

Material inducements are sometimes offered and goods bought with Venezuelan Government funds are sent to the border regions from time to time and distributed by "friends" of the Guyanese.

Guyanese Amerindians who are generally better educated than their Venezuelan brothers, and who have titles to their lands and a stake in the administration of the country, have been reacting variously. Some point to the difference in the conditions of the two peoples, only to be told that Venezuela has more Amerindians than Guyana. The authorities of that nation have become concerned to improve the conditions of their citizens close to the border so as to show that their indigenous population, long neglected, is now taken care of.

Despite the hostilities, Venezuelans have refrained from hassling border residents wishing to cross into their territory to visit and do business, and have in fact been encouraging such visits.

They have sought to lure the population by the issue of (Venezuelan) identity cards and other documents to . . . Guyanese citizens, and have provided jobs and tractors.

Nevertheless, Guyanese Amerindians, who have concepts of territory that do not match the covetousness of the Venezuelans, do not bestir themselves to leave permanently, since the tradition of mobility hardly suggests such a need.

The development of Guyanese enclaves in Venezuelan towns such as Ciudad Bolivar has, however, attracted many Guyanese, and these the Venezuelans have been telling that the land is theirs and that they intend to take it.


The war hysteria generated by the Guyana Government through the state-owned Guyana Chronicle was again evident on the 7 May in an editorial headlined, "READY ON THE WESTERN BOUNDARY". It stated:

. . . Each diplomatic advance towards a peaceful settlement of the Falklands conflict makes the Venezuelan militarists more desperate. For if indeed the Falklands issue can be settled peacefully, then what reason would Venezuela give for attacking Guyana militarily?

In fact their only hope is to use the international atmosphere of turmoil and confusion sparked off by the Argentine invasion of the Falklands as a cover for a "blitzkrieg" -- a rapid and total destructive war. Their reasoning is, that while everyone else is busy or too preoccupied to notice, Guyanese resistance would be quickly overcome, and they would already have seized substantial areas of the country.

If and when an international outcry arose, the Venezuelans would then withdraw -- after extended negotiations -- to a line which left them in control of a substantial part of the Essequibo.

Until the next time.

If there was an outcry, then they would simply stay in possession of what they had managed to grab. . .


On the afternoon of the 10 May, an armed unit of the Venezuelan Army left its base on Ankoko Island and crossed the Cuyuni River, the international boundary, and landed at Eteringbang on the Guyana side. Troops of the GDF observation there opened fire and warned the intruders not to advance further as they were trespassing on Guyanese territory. The Venezuelan soldiers who did not shoot remained in their positions for some time, but later withdrew to Ankoko Island. No casualties were reported.

Following the incursion, the Guyana Government later in the evening protested verbally to the Venezuelan Ambassador in Georgetown, and on the following day a formal note of protest was forwarded to him.

However, the Press Attache of the Venezuelan Embassy, Manuel Rodriguez, on the 11 May denied all knowledge of the Venezuelan Army's violation of Guyana's territory and claimed that the Embassy was awaiting definite proof of the Guyanese contention. Rodriguez also reiterated that Guyana had nothing to fear from Venezuelan militarism and expressed unhappiness that a poor image of his country was being offered to Guyanese.


In Venezuela itself, a leading member of the Accion Democratica, Humberto Celli, on the 11May expressed fears that the COPEI Government would invade Essequibo. His fears were voiced in the midst of an intensified campaign in the Venezuelan media urging Venezuela to invade Guyana and seize western Essequibo by force. Celli claimed that the COPEI was losing political support and this might force President Campins to resort to a military occupation in order to rally support for his party.

Meanwhile, later on the same day, a Venezuelan Government communique issued in Caracas commented on the claim by Humberto Celli. The communique quoted the Minister in the Presidential Secretariat, Jorge Baez, as saying:

The National Government cannot but express its deep concern at the declaration of the Assemblyman Humberto Celli, member of the national directorate of the Accion Democratica in relation to matters of delicacy and seriousness.

The leader of Accion Democratica, from his electoral standpoint, tends to give to his analyses a focus wanting in objectivity.

As the Government of this country has received the backing of the nation on the Falklands issue, leaders of the Accion Democratica have grown uneasy about their electoral possibilities and, in their enthusiasm to deprecate the Government, assumed the insensitivity of a position that coincides, contrary to Latin American and Venezuelan feeling, with the English. . .

Baez added that Venezuela, as a country with great respect for international law, would exhaust and participate to the fullest in all the established procedures set out in the Geneva Agreement in relation to the border issue. He concluded by insisting that there was no reason for anyone to suppose that the Campins Government would take any step of such gravity, such as the invasion of Guyana, in the interest of its electoral prospects.


The statement by Baez and the denial by the Venezuelan Embassy Press Attache of military incursion into Guyanese territory drew this comment from the Guyana Chronicle in an editorial on the 12 May:

. . .The latest denial, by a Minister of President Campins secretariat, and by Mr. Manuel Rodriguez of the Venezuelan Embassy in Georgetown, is either a calculated insult, or a worrying example of unbelievably bad communication between Caracas and the commanders of its border forces.

We hesitate to dwell on the notion that the government in Caracas really does not know, and not in complete control of its border forces, because this raises the terrifying prospect that some disaffected or ambitious Venezuelan militarist could drag both countries into a conflict at a whim. . .


Faced with the denials by Venezuela of the military incursion into Guyana by its soldiers on the 10 May, the Guyana Foreign Affairs Ministry stepped up its campaign to inform the world of Venezuela's "acts of aggression". The Guyana campaign included the sending of information to Guyana's High Commissioners and Ambassadors abroad, telegrams to all CARICOM Foreign Ministers, and alerting the Non-Aligned Movement through Cuba, its chairman at that time.

Up to the 13 May 1982 the Venezuelan authorities in Caracas had refused to meet with the Guyana Ambassador, Rudolph Collins, to discuss the military incursion, even though the Ambassador had requested an audience since two days previously. On the 14 May in Georgetown, Guyana's Foreign Minister, Rashleigh Jackson, told journalists that Venezuela did not respond to Guyana's Notes of Protest against aggression and that Guyana would continue to internationalise the issue. Jackson said that the Venezuelan Ambassador had been summoned home and would be returning in June at which time he expected to receive some firm response from Venezuela on the incursion and "other violations" which were reported.

The Minister outlined the Venezuelan "tradition" of denying reported and corroborated charges of aggression, and warned that much trust should not be set on the continued denials by Venezuela. He pointed out that the Campins administration was not the only decision-making element in that country, since the army could precipitate violence if it wanted to do so.

Jackson also explained that some Venezuelan legations and embassies abroad were claiming that Guyana was orchestrating anti-Venezuelan sentiment in order to distract its population from the pressing economic situation. However, he pointed out, Venezuela was open to a similar charge. He denied that Guyana was conducting such activities.

Asked about the possible British and American positions in the event of an outbreak of hostilities, Jackson explained that Britain had stated that it regarded the 1899 Award as valid and that it hoped for a peaceful settlement of the issue. In the case of the Americans, he said they were against the use of force for the resolution of issues of this sort.

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As would be recalled, the PNC regime in Guyana was one of the first to express support for Britain in the Falklands crisis. However, the opposition PPP openly expressed condemnation of Britain and, at many public meetings, PPP leaders came out in support of Argentina's sovereign rights to the Falkland Islands.

On the 15 May 1982 the PPP released an official statement on the Falklands crisis in which the party welcomed the intervention of the UN Secretary-General, and expressed confidence that a negotiated political solution in keeping with respect to Argentina's sovereign rights to the Falklands (Malvinas), being near its mainland territory, could be arrived at within the framework of the United Nations. The statement continued:

The search for a peaceful settlement would be improved if Britain withdrew its occupation forces and air and naval presence from the troubled area.

We condemn Britain for ignoring the repeated decisions of the United Nations urging it to implement the Declaration on Colonisation with regard to the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands which Britain had seized by force in 1833, and ignoring as well, decisions of the Non-Aligned Movement supporting Argentina's claim and sovereignty of the islands.

The PPP notes the sinister role of the imperialist United States in the conflict which, if allowed to continue, can pose a threat to international peace and security.

Washington first posed as a "peacemaker" offering "unbiased mediation" and "honest broker services". But Washington's mask of impartiality fell when the United States declared support for its imperialist partner, Britain, which waged war against a Latin American state.

The United States not only abandoned its collective defence obligation under the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (Rio Treaty), but refused to support the decisions taken by the Foreign Ministers at the OAS Consultative Meeting to discuss the Falklands (Malvinas) issue.

The Foreign Ministers' Meeting called on Britain to stop military actions and agree to a peaceful settlement of the conflict, confirmed Argentina's sovereignty over the Falklands and condemned the economic sanctions imposed by the European Community (EEC) against Argentina.

The people of Latin America and the Caribbean can clearly now see the true ambitions of Anglo-American imperialism. The PPP joins with the peoples of Latin America in solidarity with the people of Argentina in the struggle to defend sovereignty over the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands.

In a comment on the statement, the leader of the PPP, Dr. Cheddi Jagan, declared that he did not see a link between the Falklands dispute and the Venezuelan claim to western Essequibo. He explained:

They are separate and distinct questions in the sense that the Falkland Islands are a part of Argentina. In the case of Guyana, an international tribunal, with the agreement of the Venezuelan Government and the British Government, then speaking for Guyana, decided on the boundary.

The Venezuelan Government accepted this as a final settlement at the time. The Argentina Government never surrendered its sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.

Meanwhile, Guyana's Permanent Representative at the UN, Noel Sinclair, on the 15 May wrote the President of the Security Council detailing the incident of the incursion of Venezuelan troops into Guyana. The letter expressed concern over the act of armed aggression by Venezuela which represented a clear violation of Guyana's national sovereignty and territorial integrity and of the UN Charter which required States to refrain from threats or use of force.


The Working People's Alliance (WPA) added its voice against the war hysteria being propagated by the Venezuelan media and the Guyana Government. In a release published in its organ, Dayclean, on the 15 May, the WPA stated:

. . .What about WPA's position on the Venezuela-Guyana border question? The Protocol of Port of Spain comes to an end in the middle of June. After the move of Argentina last month, no one can deny that the air is full of heat. Only the highest statesmanship in Guyana and Venezuela can save our peoples from the curse of war. Can the two countries find that statesmanship?

Inside Venezuela there are open warmongers. After (Argentine President) Galteri's move these warmongers called for the invasion of Guyana. Herrera Campins has tried to answer them. The warmongers have support in a section of the Venezuelan press and may have support in the Venezuelan army. Who knows? By giving support to (Britain's Prime Minister) Thatcher and saying not a word on the colonial question of the Malvinas, Burnham missed a chance to improve matters. . .

The whole of Latin America is now calling for peace between Argentina and Britain. And it is quite clear that the entire Third World wants peace. So now is the time to call on Venezuela to agree at once to talk, before the middle of June, about a way to settle the dispute under the Geneva Agreement. Guyana has nothing to lose by openly supporting those in Venezuela who are calling for talks against those who are calling for war...

Most Guyanese feel that something big will happen in June. Many do not see Guyana as belonging to Guyanese. They see it as Burnham's property for him and his friends. So they do not care who comes and takes over. You do not agree with invasion unless you have a deal with invaders. So far as we can see, these Guyanese have no deal with anyone. Burnham is no model for us to copy.

In the 1960s Burnham agreed with the USA's coming in, because they came in to put him in power.

Just in case someone attacks Guyana, is it right to defend the land? The new constitution says, "It is the duty of every citizen to defend the state." He knows that, because he has taken over the country, he has to force the people. WPA says that the people have no duty at all to defend the PNC, but all the people all over Guyana must think very carefully about defending their homeland for their own benefit. Those who talk war when they can talk peace are no different from those who took away our human rights a long time ago. The same goes for those who would seize land instead of sitting down and talking about a solution.

Those who don't care if an invader comes in are those who do not take part in the political struggle against the dictator. If they were struggling against Burnham, if they were fighting for a free Guyana, they might not feel that way. . .


A number of British newspapers had on the 7 May 1982 noted Venezuela's support for the Argentine invasion of the Falklands and pondered on the implication for Guyana in the light of Venezuela's claim to the western Essequibo. The Daily Telegraph of London, in an article headlined "Essequibo as another Falklands?", said that Venezuela's claim to the western Essequibo had become "very much like a football in Venezuelan politics, with would-be military strongmen threatening forcible occupation and the ruling party beating the drum to distract attention from the country's domestic problems". The Daily Post of Liverpool contended that Venezuela's enthusiastic support of Argentina implied that it "would do likewise with the Essequibo region". In its analysis of the Venezuelan claim, the Daily Telegraph quoted General Arnaldo Castro Hurtado, the Venezuelan military candidate for the 1983 presidential elections as saying that he did not rule out an invasion of Guyana as the solution of the territorial issue. According to the paper, General Castro Hurtado's "drumbeating" had forced the Campins' Government to "swallow its evident distaste for Argentina's human rights record". It also described Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jose Zambrano Velasco's recent statements on his country's claim as "reminiscent of the kind of language used by Argentina's rulers to justify the Falklands occupation". Zambrano was reported to have said that Venezuela was "despoiled" by having Essequibo under the control of Guyana. Another paper, the Glasgow Herald, claimed that the likelihood of present Venezuelan ambitions developing into "copycat adventurism" in the wake of Argentina's occupation of the Falklands should not be ruled out.

A report in the New York Times on the 18 May quoted Venezuela's Ambassador to the USA, Marcial Perez-Chirboga, as saying that his country would hold talks over the border issue after the expiration of the Protocol of Port of Spain. He also insisted that his country had no intention of using force to press its claim.


On the 19 May, Dr. Jagan addressed a number of public meetings in the West Berbice area of Guyana. At these meetings, he called upon the PNC regime to arm the population for the defence of the country in the light of the threat of invasion coming from Venezuela. He insisted that there must be an expansion of the People's Militia to arm and train the people and to embark on community policing, all of which would be cheaper than having an expanded army. He reiterated that only a trained and armed people, not a handful of PNC members and the army, could defend Guyana against Venezuela, as the Cubans and the Vietnamese had proven in the course of their history. Those peoples, Dr. Jagan pointed out, took on the biggest power on earth and were successful because they had governments of the people, and the people were trained and armed. Similarly, Grenada was demonstrating the same process.


In Guyana, the Guyana Chronicle continued its attacks on Venezuela. Through its columnist, Dargan, it also launched an attack on the PPP for supporting Argentina on the Falklands issue. In an article published on the 19 May, Dargan in an emotional outburst asked why should the PPP call on the "British owners" of the Falklands, "territory indisputably British for 150 years", to withdraw, and not insisting that Venezuela "withdraw from territory once British and now Guyana's".

Then on the 21 May, the same newspaper printed a letter written by Gerald A. Perreira, a leading member of the PNC, in which he claimed that the PPP waited to take a position on the Falklands issue until "after the Soviet Union took 'principled' position, followed by Grenada, Nicaragua and Cuba", countries which he referred to as "the Soviet revisionists and their flunkeys".

In Caracas, former Foreign Minister, Aristides Calvani, the statesman who had signed the Protocol of Port of Spain, on the 21 May issued a warning to President Campins against using force to settle the Venezuelan claim to western Essequibo. Speaking on television, Calvani said:

A Venezuelan attempt to take over the disputed Essequibo Zone from Guyana will be a mistake, and will most likely fail. . . I believe we are basically a weak country. Despite our oil wealth, we must not forget that we are a developing country...

Although the Venezuelan claim to Essequibo and the Argentine claim to the Falkland Islands have the same base, the problems are now different because Guyana is now an independent country, and Venezuela will face international criticism if it attacked Guyana... History shows that few countries have won in the end when they decided to resort to force to resolve a dispute. . . War is the last recourse. Good diplomacy says that we must negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. Those who begin wars rarely know how they end.


A Mirror editorial on the 23 May 1982, headlined "The Land Belongs to the People", defended the PPP's position on the Falklands issue. It stated:

There can be little doubt that a number of nations which sided with Britain on the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) issue now wish that they had not done so. We do not know if the Guyana Government is among that number, but it is clear that Latin Americans feel very strongly on the matter and quite rightly consider the Falklands to be part of Argentina's territory. It has certainly created an enormous problem for the USA, which has lost a great deal of influence in Latin America as a result.

Anyone looking at a map cannot but see that there is no other country to whom the Falklands could belong, since they lie just alongside that country. A study of the history of the seizure of these islands by Britain 150 years ago, and the yearly demands by the Argentine Government for their return, show in no uncertain terms how a major power used clout to deny the rightful owners of their territory. But that was in the days when it was said that the "sun never sets on the British Empire", so vast it was. But as a British writer said not so long ago -- "The decline of British power and influence in the world, (has led to) the transformation of the Empire on which the sun never set, into a ramshackle and absurd Commonwealth on which it never rises." Prime Minister Thatcher, conscious of her country's decline, is trying to use Britain's military resources to re-establish its dying dominance. She is now running into trouble at home.

What is sad to see, and also most ludicrous, is the way in which the CARICOM countries reacted to Britain's decision to reclaim her colony. All once colonies of Britain, it seems that none has completely cut the navel cord that once bound them to the Mother country. Among them is the Government of Guyana, which instead of taking a position among other countries of this continent, has held on tightly to Britain's apron strings, even though the regime has been the loudest to shout about colonialism and the domination of the Englishman. But when we get to the heart of the matter, its subservience always comes to the fore in such situations.

Oh, yes! The PNC regime tries to talk its way out of its subservience to Britain by bringing in the Venezuela border dispute, as if that had any relevance to Britain's supremacy over the Falkland islands! . . . But the regime persists in its illogical position that supporting Argentina's take-over of the Falklands could encourage Venezuela to take over Essequibo in Guyana.

After all, who put us in this untenable position? When the PPP was in office, it steadfastly refused to recognize that Venezuela had any claim to any part of Guyana's territory. It was the Coalition (PNC-UF) Government which Anglo-American imperialism foisted on the people after ousting the PPP Government in 1964, which signed the Geneva Agreement, against strong opposition from the PPP. This agreement gave status to the Venezuelan claims!

Some excuse themselves for supporting Britain on this issue by pointing out the nature of the dictatorship in Argentina. No one denies this, but the lands belong to the people of Argentina. In the same way, some foolish people say, " Let the Venezuelans take our land." They say this because they detest the PNC regime that much! But the land belongs to the Guyanese people and not to the PNC regime! The PNC regime will go, but the land will remain the rich inheritance of all Guyanese and their children, and their children to come!


In Caracas, a leader of the Opposition, Gonzalo Barrios, on the 25 May suggested a negotiated border settlement with compensation. He indicated that his plan might take the form of a transaction in which Venezuela would compensate Guyana for part of the territory. He explained that a peaceful settlement to the border issue could be arrived at "if diplomatic skill and the very direct means of pressure available to Venezuela are employed". However, he opposed any kind of military action against Guyana saying that "people who fantasize about such action appear to be ignoring the international situation".

Commenting on Barrio's statement, the Guyana Chronicle of the following day stated: "The view that Guyana should be offered compensation for a part of its territory suggests a clear recognition of the emptiness of the Venezuelan claim."


The Guyana Chronicle on the 28 May published a letter written by Dr. Jagan replying to an article of Dargan in the 19 May issue of the same paper. The letter stated:

...Dargan's attacks and fulminations against the PPP and myself are groundless and illogical, to say the least. He asks: why tell "the British owners" to withdraw from the Falklands ("territory indisputably British for 150 years") and not tell Venezuela to "withdraw from territory once British and now Guyana's".

First of all, what territory has Venezuela seized? I'm not aware of any part of Guyana occupied by Venezuela, unless Dargan is referring to the seizure years ago of Ankoko.

As regards the Venezuelan take over of Guyana's half of Ankoko and the patrolling of our waters by Venezuelan naval craft under the Leoni (former President) Decree in the late 1960s, the position of the People's Progressive Party was abundantly clear; it was aggression. We urged the Government to seek a debate in the Security Council, but it failed to do so.

Again last year we told the Government: in view of its claims of Venezuelan aggression of all kinds to call for a Security Council debate. Nothing was done. Up to today this has not been done.

Maybe, the Government is aware that it's one thing to make propaganda at home, but quite another question to approach the Security Council where proof of aggression and "seizure" are to be forthcoming.

Be that it may, let me add that our position inside and outside of Parliament has been firmly stated: the Essequibo region claimed by Venezuela is Guyanese. The boundary dispute between Britain (then speaking for Guyana) and Venezuela was settled by an international Arbitral Award of 1899, and accepted "as a full, perfect and final settlement" of all the questions referred to the Arbitrators. (Actually, land in the Orinoco River region went to Venezuela). Since the claim was raised in 1962, Venezuela has not provided any evidence on its contention that the Award is null and void. Thus, the PPP holds that Essequibo is an in integral part of Guyana and will defend Guyana's territorial integrity and independence.

At this point, it should be noted that the Venezuelan claim to the Essequibo region of Guyana is not on the same footing with Argentina's claim to the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands. The facts are: The Falklands which lie within the continental shelf at only 300 miles from the coast of Argentina, was a part of Argentina before and after independence in 1810; as a part of Argentine territory, it was seized from it in 1833 by the British. Argentina sought a peaceful solution for more than 150 years with more than 20 years of direct negotiations with the United Kingdom; in 1965 under Resolution 2065, the United Nations by an overwhelming large majority, recognised "the existence of a dispute over the sovereignty of the Malvinas, and invited the Governments of Britain and Argentina to seek a peaceful solution; the United Nations again in 1966, 1967, 1969 and 1971 urged both nations to continue the negotiations; the Non-Aligned Movement supported Argentina's sovereignty in the declarations of Havana, New Delhi and Lima.

As far as the 1,800 inhabitants are concerned, they are virtual serfs of the British-owned Falklands Islands Company. According to Newsweek (May 3, 1982) this highly profitable monopoly is "an absolute relic of empire that owns 46 percent of the territory's land, nearly half of the 650,000 sheep and directly employs one-third of the local work force. The Falkland Islands, in essence, is a company town. . ."


The Guyana Chronicle of the 2 June carried another letter by Dr. Jagan, this time in reply to that of Gerald Perreira which was published in the 21 May issue of the paper. Dr. Jagan wrote:

...Mr. G.A. Perreira in his letter . . . peddled the old hoary tale that we took orders from Moscow, when he stated that the PPP waited to take a position on the Falklands issue "after the Soviet Union took a 'principled' position, followed by Grenada, Nicaragua and Cuba" ("the Soviet revisionists and their flunkeys").

The Soviet Union was accused of aligning "itself with the fascist Military Junta of Argentina for economic reasons against Britain, which is a bourgeois democracy". And Nicaragua was attacked for accusing Argentina of trying to destabilise the Sandinista government and suddenly for "supporting Argentina because of the Soviet Union ties with that country".

Maoist dogmatism prevents Perreira from perceiving reality objectively, and distinguishing expediency from principle.

First of all, the PPP's position was taken only after obtaining and assessing all the facts. If our view coincides with the Soviet Union, Grenada, Cuba and Nicaragua, it is not due to orders, but because we all have a revolutionary world outlook. Our support stems from the fact that the Falkland Islands were seized not from Spain, but from Argentina in 1833.

Secondly, a cardinal principle of Soviet foreign policy immediately after the 1917 Great October Socialist Revolution is peaceful coexistence, the main principles of which are sovereign equality, inviolability of borders, territorial integrity of states, peaceful relations (economic, cultural, etc.) with countries regardless of their socio-economic systems and non-interference in internal affairs. Is Mr. Perreira saying that the Soviet Union should have no links with Argentina when all other countries have such connections? Is he suggesting that the Soviet Union should not have traded with, bought grain and meat from Argentina, after the Carter administration had imposed a grain embargo against it and pressurising other states to do likewise?

Thirdly, there is nothing inconsistent about the Sandinista government opposing the Military Junta (government) of Argentina for being an instrument of imperialism for its destabilisation, and supporting the Argentine state and people through the military dictatorship to regain sovereignty over the Falklands. (In this they are in line with the Non-Aligned Movement). Support for Argentina's sovereignty to the Falklands does not mean support for Argentina's military dictatorship. A similar situation exists in Guyana: the PPP will defend Guyana's sovereignty to the Essequibo, but it is definitely opposed to the PNC government.

Fourthly, on principle too, Cuba supports Argentina against Britain and Guyana against Venezuela.

Apart from the Falklands issue and the Venezuelan threat to Guyana, we must keep in mind one principal fact: imperialism is the main and common enemy of progressive mankind. The Margaret Thatcher-Ronald Reagan syndicate represents the most reactionary, hawkish elements of the capitalist ruling classes in Britain and the USA. It wants a resurrection of the cold war, which was started by the Winston Churchill-Harry Truman axis in 1947.

Great Britain does not wish to concede to Argentina's sovereignty over the Falklands because firstly of the possibility of oil in the area and secondly of the vested interests of the British monopoly, the Falkland Islands Co. Ltd.

The United States is supporting Britain contrary to the Rio Treaty, which it created in 1947, because Britain is its staunchest ally in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) created in 1949; and also because of the strategic location of the Falkland Islands as a future British-American military base, along the same lines as the military installations on Ascension Island, for nuclear submarines, missiles, sophisticated electronic equipment, a new airstrip and a permanent task force.

For many years, imperialism has been trying to establish the South Atlantic Treaty Organisation (SATO) to include USA, fascist South Africa, Chile and Uruguay and other Latin American states, including Brazil which has now refused to become a member.

It is the duty of all democrats, progressives and revolutionaries to come together to defeat imperialism and local reaction.

All outstanding issues must be resolved by peaceful means. In the case of the Falkland Islands, Britain must recognise Argentinean sovereignty. As for the Venezuelan claim to Guyana, this must be referred to the UN Secretary-General for a peaceful solution. . .


Meanwhile, the Guyana-Venezuela border issue continued to receive publicity in the international press. However, while the articles printed carried either the Venezuelan or Guyanese position, or in may cases both positions, some of them were fantastic and outright untruths. A Guyana News Agency report on the 31 May revealed that a US daily, which it did not name, carried a story written by Virginia Prewett and William Mizelle, reportedly veteran journalists on Western Hemisphere affairs, who recently visited Venezuela for interviews with government officials there. The article they wrote, entitled "Falklands Kindles Another Border Clash", attempted to lend credence to unfounded reports and completely misrepresented Guyana's stand on the matter.

In referring to Venezuela's negative response to the renewal of the Protocol of Port of Spain, the journalists wrote: "Hothead Guyanese politicians, boasting of Cuban-Soviet financial and military support, call this the end of negotiations over the Essequibo. . ."

On the question of the so-called Cuban-Soviet military support, the article further stated: "Socialist Guyana's boasts of Cuban-Soviet support are materialising," and that "a year ago intelligence sources said that there were 1,200 Cubans training Guyanese in jungle camps. . . Usually reliable Latin American sources now put the number (of Cuban troops training Guyanese in jungle camps) at 7,000."

The journalists also reported that there were what they called "tiny military probes along Venezuela's . . . borders" by Guyanese troops, and Venezuelan nationalists were quoted as saying that "the probes are becoming raids and provocations. Venezuela will have to deal with them, by force if need be".


At the beginning of June 1982, the Guyana Government announced that the Civil Defence Commission was given six major tasks intended to ensure the general preparedness of the nation. The Commission, headed by Vice-President Cammie Ramsaroop, was tasked with preparing and working out plans for emergencies and intervention; to co-ordinate activities with various services and organisations which could assist in rescue and relief work; to arrange for the training of personnel; to consider what uniforms and range and type of equipment would be vitally necessary for civil defence use; to inform and educate the public as regards dangers and various disasters and possible means of protection; and to implement protection and rescue and relief plans.

The General Council of the ruling PNC met for three days during the period 4-6 June. At the end of the meeting during which the border issue and the severe economic crisis were high points of discussion, it was decided that the country's economy be placed on a "war footing". The meeting did not publicly reveal what was meant by placing the economy on a "war footing", but subsequently, a document sent by the PNC to all its leading functionaries throughout the country revealed it meant that:

(i) The Regional, Districts, Groups (of the PNC) and Local Authority Chairmen and Senior Government Officers should be empowered to take urgent and necessary measures and to take those decisions intended to stimulate the recovery of the national economy.

(ii) The National Defence Board should also be charged with the task of monitoring the operations of various agencies / departments with the aim of making recommendations and taking corrective action (via sanctions, etc.) where needed in case of inefficient operations.


The border issue received the attention of the Coordination Bureau of Non-Aligned Foreign Ministers held in Cuba during the first week in June. Guyana was represented by Foreign Minister Rashleigh Jackson. At the meeting, the Venezuelan delegation which attended as observers, tried to lobby the delegates not to refer to the issue in their deliberations. However, the lobby was unsuccessful and at the conclusion of the meeting on the 7 June, the Ministers reiterated in their communique that "the use of force or threat of force in the settlement of the dispute was inadmissible".

The communique continued: "Having heard the statement of the Foreign Minister of Guyana, the Ministers expressed concern over certain developments in respect of Venezuela's territorial claim to Guyana which have caused deep apprehension in Guyana, a member of the Non-Aligned countries."

While calling for a peaceful solution to the border issue in accordance with the 1966 Geneva Agreement, the communique stressed that "the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of a country should be respected, that no state should try to interfere or intervene in the internal affairs of other states and that all differences or claims which may exist between states should be settled by peaceful means".

During Jackson's visit to Cuba, he also held discussions with a number of Cuban officials including the Foreign Minister, Isidoro Malmiercia. On the 8 June 1982, the two Ministers signed the Guyana-Cuba Memorandum of Cooperation which significantly mentioned, inter alia: "The Cuban side expressed its concern over the danger which the claim to Western Essequibo represents for Guyana. It reiterated its support for Guyana and demanded strict compliance with the main principles of the Non-Aligned Movement, regarding the inviolability or legally established borders."


As the date of the termination of the Protocol drew nearer, a report from Caracas on the 11 June quoted Venezuela's Ambassador to Guyana, Sadio Garavini, as saying in his country's capital that the Geneva Agreement implied "concessions on both sides". He also stressed that Venezuela would not tolerate the operation of any "transnational corporations in the Essequibo region". In this statement, regarded as part of the economic aggression launched by Venezuela against Guyana, the warning was sounded against Home Oil of Canada prospecting for oil in Essequibo, and the French firm COMEGA, a subsidiary of the French Atomic Energy Commission, prospecting for uranium in the same region. The Ambassador claimed that it was a good sign that "it is beginning to be admitted publicly that a satisfactory solution for both sides means the partial recovery of the Essequibo". It was apparent that the public admissions he was referring to included the call by influential circles in Venezuela for a settlement through "negotiation and compensation", and the more recent argument by the President of the Venezuelan Parliament's Advisory Commission on Foreign Relations, Jose Rodriguez Iturbe, that "Venezuelans must not create the fiction of recovering all of the Essequibo". A Guyana Foreign Affairs statement on the same day, while dismissing Garavini's views, stressed that any serious discussions between Guyana and Venezuela about Venezuela's claim must address the question of Venezuela's contention of the arbitral award of 1899 as null and void. The statement further pointed out that suggestions about Venezuela's "partial recovery" of the Essequibo clearly revealed the spurious nature of the Venezuelan claim to Guyanese territory.


On the 12 June the PPP responded to the PNC's plan to place the economy on a "war footing". It stated, inter alia:

. . .As regards the Venezuela border issue, the PPP feels that peace must be maintained at all costs, save any sell-out of the national interest. Take this matter to the UN now! Call in the opposition parties for consultation now! Arm, train and mobilise the masses now!

The diplomatic flank appears to have been shelved, and now the nation hears concepts like "war footing", "war economy", "emergency commission", "civil defence commission" and "national blood collecting campaign", etc. These are psychological terminologies aimed at belligerence. As such they will have an agitational and energising impact on the extremists in Venezuela who are whipping up a frenzy and urging the Campins regime to invade the Essequibo. Using such provocative rhetoric so openly is like pouring gasolene on fire, while standing nearby.

A PNC top official is reported to have said that the Venezuelans will attack "before the Protocol expires". While this is not impossible it is most unlikely. The Venezuelan Foreign Minister is on record as saying that his government is in favour of immediate negotiations to resolve the issue, following the expiry of the Port of Spain Protocol on June 18, 1982. US Secretary of State, General Alexander Haig, is also reported to have said (while he was in Caracas recently) that the USA is not in favour of an invasion of Guyana by Venezuela.

The PPP feels that should Venezuela launch an armed assault on Guyana at this time it would embarrass the USA considering the US position against Argentina on its use of force in the Malvinas. The USA wants to avoid further disastrous "side taking" as its pro-British stance on the Malvinas issue created a diplomatic fiasco in Latin America for the USA.

The PNC regime in its seventeen and a half years of office has failed to hold meaningful consultations with opposition parties on the border issue, and has made no move to do so in the face of the alleged imminent attack. If the national economy is to be placed on a "war footing" this means ipso facto that the whole country is to be on a "war footing"...


The Venezuelan Ambassador returned to Guyana on the 14 June and on the following day he handed to Foreign Minister Jackson three replies to the five notes of protest Guyana had issued to Venezuela concerning violations of Guyana's territorial integrity.

At a press briefing on the 16 June, Jackson revealed that even though Venezuelan officials in Trinidad acknowledged the landing of Venezuelan troops at Eteringbang and excused it as a "non-aggression mistake", the official replies disclaimed knowledge of the incident. The Minister explained that at the expiry of the Protocol the provisions of Article IV of the Geneva Agreement would come into force. These stipulated procedures, according to that Article, would range through negotiation, conciliation and arbitration, to resort to adjudication by an international body and the intervention of the United Nations for the settlement of the issue. He added that under the Geneva Agreement, the disputants would have three months in which to decide on procedures that would yield a solution that would be both peaceful and practical. He stressed that for Guyana, the issue surrounded the validity of the 1899 Award and, thus, any practical settlement rested with the full acceptance of the existing boundaries; for Venezuela a settlement in its view would mean a tempering of expectations, a "partial recovery" of the western Essequibo.

Interestingly, on the same day Jackson briefed the media, Argentine forces in the Falkland Islands surrendered to the British, thus bring to an end a war that lasted for six weeks.

With just two days left for the expiration of the Protocol of Port of Spain, the PNC regime in Guyana carried out a reckless propaganda campaign that the Essequibo would be invaded as soon as the time ran out. Indeed, this propaganda did have some effect in the districts near to the border with Venezuela. In the North West District residents even made preparations to evacuate the area at a moment's notice. Many parents kept their children away from schools because they feared that the children would be caught between gun battles and be killed. The general feeling in that area was that should Venezuela attack, Guyana would lose the land but that would involve the mass killing of Guyanese residents. However, tensions eased considerably when no attack came from Venezuela when the Protocol expired at mid-night on the 18 June 1982.

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At midnight on the 18 June 1982, the Protocol of Port of Spain finally expired. Earlier that day, the Guyana Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rashleigh Jackson, issued a statement which confirmed Guyana's "abiding commitment to international law" and, "while reserving its position on past and continuing Venezuelan acts, now publicly reiterates its consistent resolve to participate in good faith in the processes provided for in Article IV of the Geneva Agreement for seeking a solution to the controversy. . ."

Some four hours before its expiry of the Protocol (on the evening of 17 June), President Burnham made a nation-wide broadcast in which he dealt with the consequence of the termination. He said, inter alia:

...You may ask what next? Simply, Guyana and Venezuela must now return to the Geneva Agreement of 1966 which requires them to identify procedures designed to settle the controversy which has so far, and unfortunately, inhibited the development of those friendly relations which should characterise dealings between neighbours. . .

From our point of view it was unfortunate that Venezuela never sought within the Mixed Commission to establish the nullity of the Award, but rather proceeded on the unilateral assumption that the alleged nullity was a fact. . .

We are, nevertheless, prepared to continue the search for a solution in the friendliest manner with our western neighbour; it is our hope that Venezuela stands ready to do likewise.

Yet, however, we cannot lightly ignore Venezuela's disregard for her international commitments. I do not need to tire you with a catalogue of that country's infractions of the Geneva Agreement, the Protocol of Port of Spain, the Arbitral Award of 1899 and the Treaty of Washington of 1897.

Rather, it is for me to emphasise that the Government of Guyana has at all times sought and will continue to seek to regulate its behaviour in relation to other States, especially to our neighbours, on the basis of full respect of the United Nations Charter in particular and international law in general.

Our Government stands ready to engage in conversations on whatever differences may now exist, or may in the future arise, between us and the Government of the Republic of Venezuela as long as such conversations proceed on the basis of respect for the dignity of each side as a free and sovereign nation and are consonant with applicable norms of international law and international behaviour. . .

In our stand, we find that our convictions and views are widely shared. We have received support from CARICOM, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Commonwealth, and several members of the wider international community. At home, national unity on the question of our territorial integrity has been equivocal. . .

In spite of attempted subversion from abroad, our small frontier communities stood firm and have given more than a token of patriotic involvement. Across the ocean and other continents we have found that we have firm friends who not only understand what a threat to world peace martial efforts at seizing territory present, but who also, as a matter of principle are fully supportive of Guyana's cause in material and other terms. . .

We are not alone, but . . . in this struggle to survive as a whole country and nation the primary task, the principal burden, is that of us the people of Guyana. We owe it to ourselves, we owe it to our friends to show us brave and resolute. We want, we desire, we crave peace, but let us while hoping for the best ensure that we can prevent the worst. . .


On the 23 June, the Venezuelan Ambassador to Guyana, Sadio Garavini, called a press conference to explain his country's position on the border issue now that the Protocol had expired. At that meeting, the following press release was issued by the Venezuelan Embassy:

With the termination of the Protocol of Port of Spain, the Geneva Agreement has come back in full force.
The Geneva Agreement acknowledges the existence of a controversy and establishes the proceedings to find a solution to it through peaceful means. It expressly disposes, in its preamble, that the matter must be resolved in a manner acceptable to both parties. The first Article of the Agreement compels the parties to negotiate "a satisfactory solution for the practical settlement of the controversy". This means that we have to take into consideration, not only the juridical elements involved in this issue, but also all the historical, moral, political, geographic and other aspects that could lead us to a balanced, practical, acceptable and definitively, just solution.

The Agreement also binds the parties to enter the process of negotiation in good faith and not to transform it into a senseless exercise of intransigence. By virtue of the first proceeding established by the Geneva Agreement, a joint Guyanese-Venezuela Commission was formed and during the four years (1966-1970) that the Commission worked, our representatives tried their best to fulfil the duty of negotiating in good faith. On the other hand, the Guyanese delegation, instead of approaching the issue of the territorial claim in a manner in which it was legally compelled to, refused stubbornly to consider any possibility of a practical and satisfactory solution of the matter, and maintained that the Award of 1899 was an accomplished fact and a final settlement; therefore, meanwhile, Venezuela did not obtain its nullity, there was nothing more to discuss. This conduct of the Guyanese delegation frustrated the mechanisms of the treaty. To pretend that there is no possibility of negotiation unless the Award of 1899 is previously nullified or to limit the application of the means of solution only to juridical aspects involved, is a clear violation of the letter and the spirit of the Geneva Agreement.

The "controversy" according to the mentioned Agreement, is not a purely juridical matter and involves aspects of natural justice and morality. The behaviour of the Guyanese delegation was incompatible with the contents of the Geneva Agreement. To obtain the objective of a solution acceptable to both parties, the Agreement gives a fundamental role to negotiation, and this is only conceivable as a reciprocal movement of approximation between the positions of the two parties. Only through this concerted exercise of flexibility, sufficient points of contact between the aspirations of the two countries could be established and, therefore, open the possibility to a balanced and mutually acceptable solution.

It is evident that the validity or nullity of an Award cannot be negotiated, because it is inconceivable to reach a result of equilibrium reciprocally acceptable on this manner. The real truth is that the Geneva Agreement sets aside the fraudulent Award of 1899 -- an Award produced by a tribunal composed of two British arbitrators, two Americans and one Russian. Venezuela was not allowed to have one of its own citizens in the tribunal; even our lawyers had to be foreigners. . . A Tribunal where the decisive vote was the one of its President, Frederick Martens, a known pro-British while supremacist racist who, some years before the Award, had written that "the future of Asia and the future destiny of their possessions compel Russia and Britain never to lose sight of the sublime role which Divine Providence has imposed on them, for the good of the semi-savage and barbaric nations of this part of the world". To add insult to offence, Martens also believed that "International Law is not applicable to the relations between a civilised power with a semi-savage nation". This was the kind of man that had the most important role in a tribunal that should have produced an objective and fair sentence between the "civilised" British Empire, that, by the way, at the end of the 19th century, was at the zenith of its power, and the "semi-savage" Venezuela of 1899. . . An Award, the result of which was described to the then Prime Minister of Britain, Lord Salisbury, by Lord Russell, one of the British arbitrators, in the following way:

The result may be described thus:- Venezuela gets much less than Lord Aberdeen's offer would have given her 50 years ago: much less than Lord Rosebury's offer would have given her a few years ago and about the same amount of territory as Lord Granville's offer would have given in '80.

Venezuela has always opposed the apparent willingness of the Guyanese Government to evade the obligations to negotiate in good faith. We cannot admit the denaturalisation of the Geneva Agreement, which is an international treaty freely entered into by Guyana. On this point Venezuela was and will be flexible. We offer our best disposition to fulfil, in good faith, the obligations of this treaty and urge firmly the Guyanese Government to do the same.

The Venezuelan Government will invite the Government of Guyana to sincerely fulfil its duties in accordance with Article IV of the Geneva Agreement, choosing direct negotiations between the two parties as the means of solution of controversies mentioned in Article 33 of the United Nations Charter.

Venezuela rejects as absurd, baseless and not serious, the recent accusations referring to a supposed Venezuelan intention of using force to solve the controversy. Venezuela wants to win the battle of peace and fraternity with Guyana. The two countries for an evident geopolitical imperative, are and will be neighbours for the rest of their existence as nation states; therefore, it is in their common interest to try to understand each other better.

The Venezuelan Government is in the best disposition to make everything possible to create a more suitable climate at the beginning of this new stage of the controversy and sincerely hopes that the Guyanese Government will do the same.


Answering questions, the Venezuelan Ambassador claimed that the only solution to the issue would involve ceding of some land by Guyana. He insisted that his Government no longer intended to demand all the land it was originally claiming. This idea of not pursuing the claim to its entirety now added a new dimension to the claim of territory by Venezuela, and this declaration by the Ambassador could be seen as a new claim being put forward by Venezuela.

In relation to the violation of Guyana's air space, the Ambassador conceded that there might have been violations, but contended that the incidents might have involved small civilian aircraft and were accidental or of no consequence. He claimed to have no knowledge of military aircraft over-flying Guyana.

Commenting on incursions by Venezuelan soldiers into Guyana's territory, he conceded that these took place but that they were unauthorised.


On the same day that the Venezuelan Ambassador held his press conference, Guyana's High Commissioner to London, Cedric Joseph, in a letter to the Financial Times dismissed the suggestion that Guyana should cede territory to Venezuela. In his letter, which was commenting on that suggestion made earlier by the Venezuelan opposition party, Accion Democratica (AD), Joseph contended that such a compromise would have far-reaching implications for the recognition of international boundaries.

Referring to AD's suggestion that "the disputed territory could be split between the two nations", Joseph said that such a proposal also "overlooked that the boundary was settled under a treaty signed in February 1897 between Britain and Venezuela."

On the possible acceptance of such a "compromise", Joseph stated:

It would seem that any state could challenge an internationally recognised boundary, assert a claim to part of the neighbouring state, declare that a dispute exists, and then advocate a sharing of the so-called disputed area.

To declare the Guyana-Venezuela boundary line invalid after a long interval on grounds so far unsubstantiated, and then propose a division of the considerable area alleged to be in dispute, if upheld, would undermine regional peace and security and constitute a serious threat to international stability.


With the ending of the Protocol, the border issue received much publicity in the international media. This clearly annoyed Venezuela's President Campins who, according to an IPS report from Caracas on the 25 June, stated in a message commemorating Venezuelan Army Day, that he would not tolerate certain kinds of reports by international news media on the Venezuelan claim to the Essequibo, since they were supportive of Guyana.

The report quoted Campins as saying that he would not allow what he termed biased distortions or subjective speculations in the coverage of the territorial issue by the news agencies. Campins contended that some of the coverage by the news agencies could damage the Venezuelan position in world opinion. He maintained that the situation with regard to Guyana called for firmness, serenity, discretion and precedence, and that the media should not give Guyana help under the guise of freedom of expression.

Meanwhile, Jamaica's Prime Minister, Edward Seaga, in a statement made in Brussels on the 25 June, offered his country's service in mediating in the issue. He stated that Jamaica was avoiding taking a position, since it was intended in helping to bring about a peaceful solution, thus helping to establish friendship between Venezuela and Guyana.


In Guyana, the Mirror in an editorial on the 27 June, commented on what should happen now that the Protocol had ended:

The Protocol of Port of Spain ended on Friday, June 18, 1982 after having been 12 years in force. May it rest in peace and may no more protocols be ever engineered in tune with the border issue. May there be a speedy peaceful solution to the simmering conflict, in the interest of both major parties to the Geneva Agreement -- Guyana and Venezuela.

This newspaper is opposed to war as a means of settling diplomatic and territorial disputes and calls for responsible statesmanship and restraint on both sides of the disputed frontier. For a start, the present area where military forces are located -- eyeball to eyeball -- should be demilitarised on either side for 100 miles. Venezuelan overflights for intelligence purposes should cease, and provocations from the Guyana side should end forthwith.

Target practice on the frontier and shooting off of cannon in that area must end. Highly inflammable attacks on Venezuela in the mass media in Guyana including the ill-advised "war footing", "war economy" propaganda balloons must end. There is no need for "war footing" and "war economy" on both sides of the frontier. Patriotism is said by the wise to be the "last refuge of fools", and also of political incompetents and anti-working class rulers.

If there should be any preparation for war by Guyana, it should be against poverty and shortages and wholesale sacking of workers; let the war be against factory closures and falling production; let it be against lack of democracy at all levels; let it be for genuine people's power. If the discredited PNC wants to wage such a war, this nation will applaud. Any other war is against the national interest, and is tantamount to treason.

In the context of overwhelming Venezuelan might, an armed show-down will be disastrous to Guyana. Let us not fool ourselves. We ought not to play the imperialist game when they hold the trump cards. Anyway, is the nation prepared to fight? Are the people armed and trained? Where are the military units? Where are the diplomatic logistics necessary for a successful war effort against a Venezuela backed by the imperialist USA? We at this newspaper don't see any.

Venezuela's claim to 70 percent to Guyana is absurd as the world knows already, including Venezuela. There is therefore more in the mortar than the pestle. What is it that the Venezuelan ruling class and the USA really want from Guyana? The border claim is already a smoke screen for something else. What is it? The PNC regime must find out and negotiate.

In their haste to sign the Geneva Agreement on February 17, 1966, they virtually failed to read the fine print so as to learn in the initial stage what the land grab is all about. To dramatise its seriousness, Venezuela promptly seized Guyana's half of Ankoko in 1966 -- the very year of Guyana's independence.

Seeing that the Protocol has come to an unlamented end, we urge high level bilateral talks between Guyana and Venezuela to start as early as possible. Britain and the USA ought not to be involved in such talks, for their imperialist interests based on their geopolitical domination and plunder do not accord with the legitimate interests of Guyana and Venezuela. There ought to be no summit at this time. The Caracas summit of April 1981 was ill-timed, ill-planned and pre-mature. That is why it failed so miserably.

While Venezuela could be deemed the aggressor in pursuing an absurd claim to Guyana's land, the evidence shows that it is Guyana which wanted the Protocol to be extended, perhaps to two more 12 years to the year 2006. Following the fiasco in Caracas, the Guyana side reacted in pique when Venezuela opted not to renew the Protocol. Assuming the indicators are correct, why does Guyana want the Protocol extended. To keep a sword of Damocles over the head of the people?

We say have done with procrastination and filibuster! Solve the problem now. In the upcoming talks, the 1899 Arbitral Award must be affirmed and final. There must be no revision of the frontier demarcated in 1905, and no ceding of land. The sovereignty of Guyana should not be negotiated either. However, no reasonable proposals from the Venezuela side should be turned down.


One of the international newspapers that highlighted the issue was the prestigious New York Times which, in an editorial on the 25 June urged the US Government to regard the Venezuelan claim to Guyanese territory as a serious matter.

Tracing events related to the claim, the paper noted that the Venezuelan claim "once prompted a curious and bellicose chapter in US diplomacy". Dismissing the claim as "fundamentally a matter of emotion", the editorial warned that "there's nothing like a boundary dispute to bring out the worst in the best of nations".

Meanwhile, the Saint Lucia weekly, Crusader, of the 26 June, claimed the Prime Minister of that state, Mr. John Compton, was supporting the Venezuelan claim. According to the paper, Mr. Compton said that a planned CARICOM summit should not be held in Guyana "because it could be interpreted as a show of support for Guyana" and could prejudice the outcome of the dispute.


One year after the Guyana Government had promised that a motion of the border issue would be presented to the National Assembly, this eventually materialised on the 8 July.

In moving to reaffirm the validity of the existing boundary, Prime Minister, Dr. Reid deemed the claim as "baseless in law", "imperialist in its assertion and "arrogant even to absurdity". He urged Venezuela to leave Guyana in peace to chart its own progress in the social, political and economic spheres. "Our case is strong and is supported by all the rules and norms of international practice," he said.

The Prime Minister gave a historical review of the issue in which he affirmed the validity of the Arbitral Award of 1899 and said that in 1962 when "Guyana's independence was engaging the attention of the UN Fourth Committee, Venezuela for the first time made a complaint which persists up to this day". He went on to say that Guyana had sought on all occasions since, to avoid and prevent an escalation of the conflict.

Dr.Reid referred to the Port of Spain Protocol which he accused Venezuela of violating in diverse ways, including armed incursions and overflights, economic sabotage and threats, and said that as a consequence of the Venezuelan attitude, there was a high cost to Guyana in terms of defence postures.

Dr. Jagan, speaking for the PPP during the debate, asserted that "Essequibo is an integral part of Guyana", but called for an end to invective from the Guyana side so as to "keep down" the political temperature. Condemning the war hysteria which until recently was being whipped up by the PNC regime, he remarked that it was "most unlikely that Venezuela will commit aggression against Guyana".

Dr. Jagan also dealt with the history of the claim, but from analytical class basis, referring to imperialist interests and intrigue. He charged that when the claim was resurrected in 1962, it was part of the destabilising exercise against the progressive PPP Government and Guyana, at the height of anti-Cuba hysteria emanating from Washington and echoed in Venezuela, resulting in the break up of the incumbent coalition Government in Venezuela. He sharply condemned the PNC for at that time being a part of the imperialist conspiracy and accused the party of anti-national, unpatriotic conduct. The PNC-UF combination which backed the imperialists was later installed in office as a coalition Government which then signed the Geneva Agreement in 1966. This Dr. Jagan described as "a monumental blunder". He said that the Agreement was the straw Venezuelan Governments were holding on to ever since, for before they had nothing. The PPP had warned the PNC-UF coalition against signing that Agreement.

In response to the PNC view that the 1899 Award was binding and not void, the Venezuelans were saying that if the Award was sound, why did Guyana sign the Geneva Agreement? Dr. Jagan pointed out that at the time of the signing, the PNC-UF partners refused to allow the PPP to be present at Geneva. The very year the Agreement was signed, Venezuela seized Guyana's half of Ankoko Island.

The PPP leader denounced the PNC for not taking the issue to the United Nations and for signing the Port of Spain Protocol which, rather than providing a solution, put the issue in cold storage for twelve years. "Since the PNC did not want to go to the UN Security Council with the issue, Eric Williams became the broker and told them to sign the Protocol," he remarked.

He further charged the PNC of deliberately using the border claim in a selfish manner to divert attention from IMF pressures; to improve its faded image overseas; to whip up support at home; to divert attention from the wage freeze; to make Venezuela the scape-goat for its failure to implement the Mazaruni hydro-project; and to whip up the sale of Defence Bonds.

He pointed out that despite the hysteria, nothing was being done to arm and train the Guyanese people. He warned the regime against opting for another "cold storage" period, noting that Seaga of Jamaica was offering his services to mediate in the issue. "The Government must take the opposition in full confidence. This drift is not in Guyana's interest. There must be a speedy solution to the conflict by peaceful means of negotiations," he concluded.

The United Force spokesman, Michael Abraham, in a brief contribution, said that Venezuela had no justifiable claim to Guyana, and added that "the PNC as the de facto Government has the responsibility to resist the claim. We in the UF will help them in any way possible. We consider it our duty to help any Government, even the PPP, if they were in the Government."

At the end of the debate, a resolution mandating the National Assembly to establish a "Parliamentary Committee on the Territorial Integrity of Guyana" for the purpose of keeping under constant review developments relating to the Venezuelan claim, was passed unanimously. The resolution also stated:

1. That the National Assembly reaffirms the continuing validity in its entirety of the existing boundary between Guyana and Venezuela.
2. Rejects the untenable claim by Venezuela to territory of Guyana.
3. Directs that the Guyana Government seek the support of the international community through and at all forums including the United Nations.

The Parliamentary debate was observed by the Prime Minister of Belize, George Price, who was at that time on a five day visit to Guyana. On the day after the debate, he expressed Belize's support for Guyana's territorial integrity. Later that day he held talks with Dr. Jagan whom he congratulated for enabling the motion on Guyana's territorial integrity to be approved unanimously.

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