The chairman of a 15-member Caribbean trade block said over the weekend that he backs Guyana’s government amid an escalating border dispute with neighboring Venezuela. Freundel Stuart spoke at a press conference as CARICOM leaders ended a three-day summit in Barbados.
“CARICOM stands firmly behind Guyana,” he said. “We do not think that there can be any compromise so far as Guyana’s territorial borders is concerned.”
Venezuela has long-claimed about two-thirds of Guyana and has become more insistent about a large marine area where Exxon Mobil Corp. says it made a significant oil discovery.
“We believe that scope exists for an amicable resolution of present difficulties,” Stuart said. “CARICOM also has a good relationship with Venezuela, and we are not about to try to disrupt the relationship or to pollute it in any way.”
David Granger, Guyana’s newly elected president, praised CARICOM for ensuing that the region remains peaceful. “We already have some commercial and cultural relations with Venezuela, and we expect those relations to continue,” he said.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday at the summit that his chief of staff would meet with Venezuela’s foreign minister and might dispatch a mission to both countries if there is interest.
However political and diplomatic pundits have said that the regional grouping has to tread carefully on the issue since almost all CARICOM countries, including Guyana, benefit from Venezuela’s energy alliance, Petro Caribe, while around half a dozen of them are members of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas, ALBA.
Venezuela, Guyana and other CARICOM countries are also members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, CELAC. Additionally, Guyana is an original signatory to the Treaty of Chaguaramas that established Caricom.