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Hey Everybody.
This is Verian Barker from- XPRESSBLOGG- THE ISSUES- where we examine some of the critical matters making news on our Political front.

With the lack of frequently clarifying information from the Guyana Govt on the ongoing Venezuela border crisis, misinformation has taken over in debilitating abundance.

We’ve seen news reports morph into theories and people resort to choosing their own reality. High- scandal material tends to capture attention but it makes for a very misinformed consumer.

And this reinforces our commitment to presenting the facts -from sources that are both check-able and verifiable for people to understand what is at stake.

The threat of annexation by neighboring aggressors is no idle one. We’ve seen what happened in the 1960’s when Venezuelan saber rattling for the territory that was assigned by the 1899 Treaty to British Guiana, once again, became Venezuela’s target.

On Feb 17th 1966, Representatives of Britain, Guyana and Venezuela, signed an agreement in GENEVA, to establish a border commission to negotiate a settlement. But incidents between the military and para military of the two countries affected progress. Both countries agreed to abide by Article 33 of the UN Charter that dictated peaceful negotiations which reduced the possibility of war between the two nations.

But Venezuela’s passive aggression became its weapon of war.

In Feb 1967, 1 year after agreeing to no acts of conventional war, Venezuela vetoed Guyana’s bid to join the Organization of American States -OAS – a body that protects member nations from territorial aggression by pledging war time help.

And this veto of its request for protection by Membership was further undermined by Venezuela’s back-channeling to potential investors in Guyana that they, Venezuela, did not recognize the territory assigned to Guyana by the 1899 Treaty as Guyana’s- thereby driving away prospective investors in the newly independent nation.

It’s important to mention that Prime Minister Burnham was out front and vocal in protests to foreign affiliates– to maintain condemnation of Venezuela’s territorial aggression and economic sabotage.

And then this.
Venezuela, in 1969, teamed up with Guyanese of questionable patriotism who attacked Guyanese on Guyana’s soil, storming the Rupununi police outpost on Jan 2, 1969 killing several of our Guyanese police heroes.

Blood was drawn. The actions of these Guyanese was labeled ‘secession’ by land owners who feared an Independent government under its Black Leader.

Seceding to where is the question. Plotting an incursion with the nation’s enemy is not. It is treason and should be recorded as such.

And that brings us back to the nation’s enemy, Venezuela, its resurrected claim of Essequibo, the stay of aggression by the ICJ’s order of Dec 1st 2023 and that court’s demand for Venezuela’s proof of right to Essequibo… and its litigation IF AND WHEN Venezuela submits-or fails to submit- proof of ownership by April 8 2024….

and why, in this cooling period, Guyana’s leading arm of Government would chose to take a meeting with Venezuela’s Maduro, brokered by Ralph Gonsalves to meet with with CARICOM heads of state –Motley of Barbados, Davis of the Bahamas, Mitchell of Grenada, Pierre, of St. Lucia, Drew of Nevis and Saint Kitts and Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago.

The fact is, any agreement outside of the HAGUE is subordinate to the International Court of Justice’s ruling of December 1st, 2023. So why is the Guyana government not telling Guyanese why it has chosen to meet with CARICOM heads of state – in this production of proof period.

This may have some reach back to the time when the border commission established in 1966, -originally signed by the Governments of the UK, Norther Ireland, Venezuela and Guyana after its Independence –was floundering and ended in 1970, after its 4 year term, leaving the dispute unresolved.

Replacing this agreement of 1966, was the Protocol of Port of Spain signed by Britain, Guyana and Venezuela on 18th June 1970.

But this is where it gets more informative. Great Britain had acquired British Guiana by treaty with the Netherlands in 1814. A western boundary was not defined in that Treaty and was not established until 1835 by Britain’s commissioned land surveyor, Robert Schomburgk…for whom the new line was named.

Six years later, in 1841, Venezuela disputed the line. Research suggests this dispute was triggered by the natural resource riches held by British Guiana.

In 1876 Venezuela appealed to the US for its intervention, citing America’s Monroe Doctrine…a Treaty best known for exerting diplomatic policing, where America had an interest. Little more than noting Venezuela’s concern occurred; until 1895 when the US pressured Britain into boundary dispute arbitration and appointed a boundary commission. Britain agreed and Venezuela accepted the terms of this1895 dictate on arbitration.

The decision was rendered on October 3, 1899.

It directed that the border follow the Schomburgk Line, preserving the 1835 demarcation which awarded 94% of the disputed area to British Guiana which included most of the Essequibo Basin.

Both sides – Venezuela and Britain- ratified the commission’s findings and accepted the boundaries in 1905.

It’s this negotiating platform that, we’re thinking, Ralph Gonsalves maybe trying to replicate… particularly the Protocol of Port of Spain signed by United Kingdom, Venezuela and British Guiana on Feb 17 1966 and in Port of Spain on June 18th 1970.

He may be trying to establish a body amongst the regional countries- considering the heads of state assembled.

What they all have in common is a PetroCaribe account- past or pending.

Trinidad, which has a dwindling natural gas reserve has struck a 30 year deal with Venezuela for natural gas to be produced and shipped to Trinidad. This deal has promised economic recovery that would include reigniting Trinidad’s Liquified Natural Gas Terminals and recovering thousands of jobs.

Barbados’s stake seems to be to establish itself as the regional mediator and contemplative adult under the leadership of Mia Motley.

They are now touting their interest in PetroCaribe trade on the back of brokering ‘free and fair’ elections under Maduro. It should be noted, in 2007, when Barbados refused to join the PetroCaribe deal, it was because they felt its financing was unsustainable…it wasn’t about elections, though, by that time, Chavez had reduced his country to a 1 party state…to underscore their past hypocrisy and current convenience.

But this pro Venezuela movement is not to be ignored.

If Ralph Gonsalves’ mission is to coalesce Caribbean leaders around the idea of regional cohesion and support for PetroCaribe, he is doing so in the face of of America’s sanctions against Venezuela, for fraud against its national treasury through misuse of the patrimony of oil and its revenue.

And he’s getting- very curious traction.

We remember PetroCaribe as Chavez’s vehicle to the regional oil market and his 60% now 40% later payment plan, to lure Caribbean buyers. He was running a 1 Party State dictatorship which was in violation of the democracy he agreed to employ to remain a member of the world community.

And when the warnings and subsequent sanctions were meted out by the agencies he wanted to be a part of, he expected the recipients of his oil now pay later plan to stand with him. It was a quid pro quo.

By 2010, PetroCaribe was in production decline, financial trouble and had most of its customers over committed to fossil fuel infra structure…generating addictive dependency.

Ralph Gonzalves’ St. Vincent relied on oil for 95% of total energy supply in 2019. His debt to Maduro of was 189 million Eastern Caribbean $. Maduro forgave that entire debt in April 2022 and agreed to reduce PetroCaribe debt of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States by 50%.

Another Venezuelan dictator’s quid pro quo is on the table.

Now, Ralph is Maduro’s front man…encouraging the conglomerate establishment of countries to support Venezuela’s shattered economy by reinvesting in his sanctioned PetroCaribe…

The implications here are potentially destabilizing.

Why would Guyana’s President-take a meeting organized and attended by heads of Government-all beholden to an ostracized leader who is trying to leverage his debt forgiveness -to harness support? WHY!!

Here’s our deduction.

This alliance being forged by Ralph and regional heads, to remove the stain of rogue state from the deeply maligned Maduro, is clearly calculated to catapult him to regional prominence as some sort of economic savior.

He’ll do it by Predatory Pricing, which is selling his oil well below competitive market prices in order to snare business; which is one of the tactics of undercutting competition. We’re thinking that his generous debt forgiveness and debt slashing to reel regional business in, will CERTAINLY IMPACT THE PRICE OF GUYANA’S OIL BUT MORE SO, money that should be injected into the national economy and particularly the demographic that is already the least served.

These are the issues that we hope to hear more about from both the Ruling and Opposing arms of Government.

Saying that Guyana will not give in to Venezuela presupposes that giving in is an option and we expect due push back and underscoring of this from the nation’s Opposition.

As we said in the opening, any agreement on the ownership and control of Essequibo, outside of the HAGUE, is subordinate to the International Court of Justice’s ruling of December 1st, 2023…and has to wait on further ruling on April 8th 2024.

The Government, both Ruling and Opposition arms are duty-bound to keep Guyanese apprised at every turn of this threatening border invasion.

We understand the anxiety of Guyanese at home and abroad and know that they are looking to stay informed. That requires ferreting out the truth and presenting it alongside its evidence. We believe information should be checkable and then verifiable. So we’ll post all references in the written version of this PODCAST…

Thanks for listening. Vote in our poll question, share on social media, suggest topics for discussion and stay tuned for our next episode.


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