PRESIDENT David Granger says any meetings he has with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro at the ongoing CARICOM Summit would be to deliver a clear message: Withdraw the decree on Guyana.Maduro, on May 27, issued a decree usurping Guyana’s maritime space, specifically mentioning waters where the American oil firm Exxon Mobil has declared a significant oil find.
“Whenever he comes, I am prepared to meet in order to achieve that objective of having the decree withdrawn,” President Granger told reporters at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, where he was attending a high-level meeting ahead of yesterday’s opening of the annual summit of Caribbean leaders.
Maduro is scheduled to arrive in Barbados this afternoon. President Granger said Maduro’s directive for the Venezuelan military to execute his decree constitute a threat to the peace and stability of not only Guyana but of all the sovereign States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Granger is attending his first CARICOM Summit after being elected President two months ago. His delegation includes Foreign Minister Carl Greenidge, and Ambassador Keith George, who is considered one of the Foreign Service’s top diplomats on border matters.
CARICOM has been silent on the border controversy since the May 27 decree, but Secretary-General Irwin LaRoque took offence when asked why the 15-nation regional trade and integration bloc has been hesitant to issue a statement. However, he said CARICOM remains in support of Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
President Granger said he was looking to CARICOM to implement measures which would “preserve our independence and our sovereignty, and also guarantee the success of the integration movement.”
He said that the issues of integration and territorial integrity of CARICOM Member States are “bound up”.
“We’re calling on the integration movement now, to stand on the side of Guyana’s sovereignty,” the President declared.
Should the Venezuelan President refuse to withdraw his decree, he said, Guyana will then look to its regional and international partners for support, including CARICOM.
“I expect the Region (CARICOM), I expect the Commonwealth, I expect the United Nations, I expect the OAS to come out in support of regional peace and security, and also in support of Guyana’s sovereignty,” Mr. Granger said.
By Neil Marks in Barbados