Guyana will jealously guard its resources– Minister Trotman – in response to Venezuela’s new claim

Georgetown, GINA, June 25, 2015

Guyana is fully prepared to stand up against neighbouring Venezuela which has recently laid claim to Guyana’s territorial waters according to Minister of Governance, with responsibility for National Patrimony, Raphael Trotman.

Delivering his inaugural address to the National Assembly as a minister, Trotman said, “Venezuela knows what it has to do and that is to behave itself”.

He explained that “There is a substantial oil find off the coast of Guyana. What we now have to do is develop it and protect it, even from the rapacious advances of our neighbours to the West”.

Guyana is entitled to “develop what is ours just as they are entitled to develop what is theirs”. He noted that what Venezuela has is in abundance and they have had the right to develop their resources and do whatever they want with them, “without questioning by us or from us”.

It is in this regard, that the minister said that Guyana “will guard jealously the right to do the same to our resources without interference”.

He proffered to the National Assembly that while the population does not number in the millions, all can, “rest assured that the desire to defend and enjoy what is ours is not to be underestimated”.

Minister Trotman also moved to express government’s gratitude to Columbia and Suriname which have taken offence to Venezuela’s latest claims and signalled their displeasure in no uncertain terms, by “speaking out strongly against Venezuela’s move”.

Venezuela has issued a decree in law, which law says that a very large area of the sea, not only belongs to Venezuela, but that country has called on its navy to enforce this zone.

This claim comes on the heels of the news of the discovery of a significant quantity of oil in Guyana’s internationally recognised territorial waters, several weeks ago by Exxon Mobil.

Foreign Minister Carl Greenidge recently said that the area in which oil exploration is currently underway by ExxonMobil has never been the subject of any claim from Venezuela. “It is a new claim by Venezuela, not a repetition of any claim, it’s a new claim. Secondly, it is not the APNU government that issued the exploration rights, so to suggest that they have to move now because this government has gone a step too far, is not accurate.’

He added that in claiming this expanse of territory, the Government of Venezuela has not demonstrated and indeed cannot show any reason for so doing.  “The principle underlying the claim hasn’t any basis whatsoever in any known formula for allocation of the ocean, save bullyism.”

The rights to marine resources arise from rights to land mass, so by virtue of “us occupying Guyana we have certain rights… They (Venezuela) may not be signatory of the Law of the Sea, but it is not the sea and the lawlessness that is practiced there that determines your land mass. The land mass of Guyana is defined in a treaty, and when there was a disagreement in 2009, a court pronounced on it.”

The government has promised to work on all fora, including the United Nations (UN), Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), Organisation of American States (OAS), Commonwealth and CARICOM to have this issue resolved.

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