By Caribbean News Now contributor
GEORGETOWN, Guyana — As events take shape beneath the surface of the border dispute between Venezuela and Guyana, on February 7, Brazilian President Michel Temer sent a high level delegation to Guyana and Suriname to pledge military support to defend Guyana in case Venezuela attempted to invade the disputed Essequibo area.
The situation was very “tense in Georgetown” last week, said one diplomat, as Guyana was briefed on a planned Venezuela invasion by Brazil’s defence minister Raul Jungmann, justice minister Torquato Jardim and institutional security cabinet chief Sergio Etchegoyen.
According to the Brazilian news agency, “The visit’s purpose was to discuss border security with the Guyanese and Surinamese governments.” However, an unconfirmed report in Brazilian newspaper O Antagonista claimed the real reason behind the visit was to share information that Brazil’s intelligence services had learned about Venezuela considering a military incursion into Guyana. This was confirmed by Stratfor and United News of Suriname and diplomats in Georgetown, New York, and Paramaribo.
In Georgetown, the Brazilian defence minister said, “As in anywhere else in the world, there is no place for force or opposition… but we have to enforce international rights of sovereignty… (and) we will need to make an effort to get it done.”
And making a point to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Jungmann added, “Brazil believes in the establishment of borders within all ways; the principle of diplomacy; respect for sovereignty; independence; and our endurance between us and our neighbours.”
The United News of Suriname on Monday reported that the Brazilian mission to Guyana “pledged military support to defend Guyana in case Venezuela undertook an attempt to invade the disputed Essequibo area.”
Jungmann also sought to ascertain Suriname’s position on the Guyana-Venezuela controversy as it relates to the UN secretary general’s decision to send the issue to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
According to media reports, Suriname’s President Desi Bouterse has “decided not to choose a party. Suriname is a friend of both Guyana and Venezuela.”
Since its independence in 1966, Guyana has scored two major diplomatic victories to protect its territorial sovereignty. The Venezuela/Guyana border controversy, which was settled a century ago but which Venezuela has reopened, has now been referred to the ICJ and that ruling will be binding, diplomats said. The second is Brazil’s pledge to defend its northern neighbour against any plans by Maduro to invade Guyana.
Guyana now has an ally in Brasilia in the shape of President Temer, whose government has had strained ties with the Maduro government in Venezuela over its authoritarian governance and destruction of Venezuela’s democratic institutions. Venezuela has become more and more isolated from its South American neighbours.
Jungmann praised the level of friendship between Brazil and Guyana.
He said, “Brazil wants strong neighbours. Brazil wants democratic countries… and justice… Brazil will be responsible within the limits of our ability…where necessary, a word of consolation, a word of reasoning, a word of compromise… It’s not by accident we’re here today. I will take this day always in my memory, the memory of this special day, this day of peace and… and pray that it would be like this always…”
In 2015, following two decrees issued by Venezuela asserting that country’s claim on most of Guyana’s exclusive economic zone, Ambassador Lineu Pupo De Paula of Brazil said, “I firmly believe that in the 21st century there is no place for old territorial disputes. Guyana has the right and I agree that the government has a duty to seek the development of the country. The common goal should be the welfare of all peoples of the region. South America is a place of peace and will continue to be because Brazil will not accept any turmoil in its borders.”
Guyana expressed its gratitude not only to Jungmann for his personal diligence in the strengthening of ties between the two countries but his nation’s show of commitment to the preservation of South America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace, the promotion of respect for international law and the inviolability of treaties, international peacekeeping, humanitarian and disaster relief and the consolidation of defence cooperation with Guyana.
Meanwhile, Guyana isn’t pleased with Suriname’s silence on the issue and talk of a “Venezuela/Suriname alliance”. Suriname, like Guyana, is a member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Guyana and Suriname have strong people to people ties, and they are continental neighbours. Guyana’s economic success and especially its future oil and gas revenue will help develop the economy of Suriname as well.
Delcy Lopez, the former foreign minister of Venezuela, has described Guyana and some other CARICOM members as “lapdogs” of the United States.