Caricom must help avoid war

Nicholas Maduro
AP Photo -
Nicholas Maduro AP Photo -

THE EDITOR: The news out of South America is certainly not good. On the one hand you have a dictator in the form of President Maburro (and yes, the mis-spelling is deliberate) and on the other hand you have an ally, a member of Caricom, under a serious threat of war and forcible annexation of its territory.

While it is clear that Maburro is extremely unpopular in his country – more than ten million Venezuelans (from a total of about 30 million) have fled his awful regime – what is not so clear (at least here in the Caribbean) is what exactly is the claim on the Essequibo that Venezuela has and why does this claim resonate with most Venezuelans

Very briefly, it is because most Venezuelans believe that their country was cheated in the arbitration that ended with a decision for Great Britain (then the ruler/owner of Guyana). Their argument is that they believe that the decision was fundamentally unfair because at the time Britain was one of the most powerful countries in the world – if not the most powerful. Therefore, they argue, there was at the very least the perception of bias and undue influence on the arbitrators, none of whom were South American. And this perception of bias, they argue, voids the decision of the arbitrators.

Then there is the recent decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The Venezuelan argument (in a nutshell) is that Venezuela never signed up to the treaty that established the ICJ and therefore they are not bound by any decision that it makes. Indeed, that is their major justification for not taking part in the proceedings in the first place.

I have put all this out because it hasn't been clear from the many news reports as to whether or not there is any other side to the claims of that awful dictator, Nicholas Maburro, other than those of the Guyanese. Unfortunately, even the Devil may sometimes have an argument that should at least be listened to.

So? What is the answer? Certainly on the surface, at least, both sides appear to have good arguments that need to be settled without recourse to violence (war).

I have deliberately not set out the Guyanese arguments, but, in one sentence, they can be summed up by saying that they have been in possession of the lands for more than 125 years and the revival of the Venezuelan claim is not just bogus, but is intended purely to help Maburro, who faces an election soon. It is a good argument.

So? What to do? Perhaps there might be another arbitration composed of members from both Caricom and allies of Maburro in Latin America (to avoid any perception of bias). And there should be an agreement that the decision of this tribunal will be final and binding on both sides.

It is absolutely clear that war should be avoided, and that should be the motivation for all right thinking peoples to try to help. And Caricom needs to help now! Today!


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"Caricom must help avoid war"

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