…says Latin America would also respond to threat of regional peace

Amid Venezuela’s continued provocative actions in relation to its border with Guyana, former Colombian President Iván Duque is of the view that the international community will not allow Venezuela to act on its illegal and baseless ambitions for Guyana’s territory, but rather will respond strongly to any use of force against Guyana.

Former Colombian President Iván Duque

During a recent interview with Newsweek, Duque spoke about the trouble Venezuela is causing in the region on multiple fronts. One such front is the border Venezuela shares with Guyana, where the Spanish speaking country has threatened to take away Guyana’s sovereign territory of Essequibo.
Making reference to the current Russian invasion of Ukraine, Duque was adamant that the international community would not stand by and allow this to happen. This, he noted, is a fact that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro must be aware of.
“Maduro knows that the international community is not going to let him play the Putin card in Ukraine, here in the western hemisphere. And there’s going to be a very strong response if he tries to use force against Guyana,” the former Head of State said.
“Not only maybe the United States and Canada, but there’s also going to be a response from Latin American countries, according to the treaty of reciprocal attention. So, he better not play with that. Because he knows that if he tries to play that card, he’s going to see a very strong response.”
Expressing his opinion on Maduro’s motives, Duque was of the view that the President was using the occasion to drum up nationalistic support, ahead of general elections in Venezuela where the main opposition candidate has already been controversially barred from contesting.
“I think Maduro is desperate to remain in power. And he’s trying to use Guyana as a scape goat for using the nationalistic speech. Essequibo has been in the hands and sovereignty of Guyana for more than 100 years. It represents almost 70 per cent of the territory of Guyana. And Maduro has tried to threaten Guyana that he’s going to take away that territory. He actually passed a bill stating that, that territory is part of Venezuela. And that is something that is simply insane.”
“So, Guyana is requesting that the process before the ICJ keeps on going. They have made not only a legitimate defense of their sovereignty and their interest. But I also believe that Guyana will prevail. Because I think the judicial arguments that Guyana has presented before the ICJ, are (sound),” Duque said.
Venezuela has been widely condemned for recently promulgating a “Law for the defense of Essequibo” in its National Assembly, which would infringe on Guyana’s sovereignty if acted upon.
The controversy surrounding the territory was settled through an Arbitral Award in 1899, which both countries agreed to and accepted. However, when Guyana was on the verge of gaining its independence from Great Britain in the early 1960s, Venezuela’s claims to two-thirds of its territory resurged.
The controversial law was promulgated at the instigation of President Maduro last week, in his bid to establish Guyana’s sovereign Essequibo region as a state within his country. In addition to the OAS and Caricom, the Commonwealth Secretariat has also expressed concern over the recent actions of the Venezuelan regime.
The matter was eventually taken to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), where it currently awaits a ruling. However, Venezuela in December 2023 moved a referendum to annex two-thirds of Guyana’s sovereign territory. The ICJ at the time had issued interim measures restraining Venezuela from taking further steps in this regard. (G3)