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Guyana remains vigilant with Guyana/Venezuela border controversy – Jagdeo

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General Secretary of the People’s Progress Party, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo affirmed that Guyana remains vigilant about the development on Ankoko Island by Venezuelan authorities.

Media reports have shown a massive development on the island, with a bridge being made from the mainland of the neighbouring country across the Cuyuni River, to Ankoko Island.

General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

Military tanks were also seen moving on the Island, in social media posts.

Ankoko Island legally belongs to Guyana and Venezuela, as the 1899 Arbitral Award made a demarcation on the island giving both countries ownership. However, for decades, Venezuela has occupied the entire island, essentially seizing part of Guyana’s territory.

During the party’s weekly press conference hosted by its leader, Dr Jagdeo made it clear that the government is not turning a blind eye to the actions being taken by Venezuela, which can be described as threatening.

“We are very vigilant. We are watching the development. We are working with our allies on this matter,” the PPP General Secretary stated.

While admitting that Guyana’s portion of Ankoko Island is indeed occupied by Venezuela, Dr Jagdeo said the primary focus of the government is to preserve the territorial integrity of the country.

He revealed that the bridge is indeed being constructed at Venezuela’s legal portion of the island; however, Guyana must remain vigilant about the build-up of persons in the area. As such, Guyana has alerted its international partners about the situation.

“We have made it clear and the requisite bodies have been written to, consistent with the Argyle agreement and the provisional measures announced by the ICJ [International Court of Justice]. We have notified all the relevant partners, both multilateral and bilateral about the continued attempts by Venezuela, to build up a presence at our border in a threatening posture,” the GS said.  

The bridge from Venezuela’s mainland to Ankoko Island comes even as Guyana and Venezuela signed the Argyle Agreement, accepting that, “both States will refrain, whether by words or deeds, from escalating any conflict or disagreement arising from any controversy between them. The two States will cooperate to avoid incidents on the ground conducive to tension between them.”

The Argyle Agreement was signed by His Excellency, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana and His Excellency, Nicolas Maduro, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on December 14, 2024, in Argyle, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

The border controversy between Guyana and Venezuela was settled by the 1899 Arbitral Agreement.

However, during the early 1960s, Venezuela’s claims to the Essequibo region resurged, and the country threatened physical invasion. In the last nine years, Venezuela advanced its claim, at the time of major discovery of oil offshore Guyana.

Venezuela is claiming about two-thirds of Guyana’s territory, in the Essequibo region. Guyana has maintained that its terrestrial boundary is 83,000 square miles, in addition to the internationally known maritime allocation.

When the UN Good Offices process failed, the then-UN Secretary-General referred the matter to the International Court of Justice, ICJ.

The ICJ would have pronounced that both parties desist from actions that will exacerbate the territorial controversy.

Even so, Venezuela’s parliament purportedly declared Guyana’s Essequibo as a State of Venezuela.

While Guyana is maintaining that the ICJ is the competent authority to rule on the matter and to a peaceful resolution, the country is ensuring that it builds international support and its military capacity.

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