By: Wesley Kirton
SOUTH FLORIDA – Today (Sept. 21st) is International Day of Peace. The United Nations General Assembly established the International Day of Peace in 1981 as an opportunity for people around the world to promote the resolution of conflict and to observe a cessation of hostilities.
This year, the observance of International Day of Peace should take on special significance for Guyanese at home and abroad. It is not that we Guyanese are not concerned about the conflicts around the world that result in the loss of innocent lives; the disruption to the lives of millions of women, children and men and the hunger and deprivation faced by millions more. Yes we are concerned about these negative impacts the absence of peace brings about. We are a peaceful people who abhor pain and suffering, especially of innocent people. However, this year’s observance of International Year of Peace should, and undoubtedly does take on added significance for Guyanese as the threat to peace finds itself at our doorstep.
A misguided Venezuelan President has launched renewed claims to Guyana’s territory and maritime space and as never before done by any Venezuelan government, has issued a decree unilaterally declaring Venezuelan sovereignty over the claimed area, in flagrant violation of international law….the 1899 Arbitral Award which settled the boundaries between the two countries. The decree, issued last May, gives the Venezuelan military authority to protect and defend the claimed territory which legally belongs to Guyana.
On this International Day of Peace I urge all Guyanese, wherever they may be, to use any means at their disposal…social media, letters, media interviews etc. to convey a message to President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela. Urge him to respect international law and to withdraw his decree.Let him know that we Guyanese want a peaceful resolution of the controversy and support our government’s decision to have the International Court of Justice (ICJ) rule on this matter once and for all. We must let President Maduro know that we are quite unhappy with his threats of the use of force and his efforts to prevent development, including oil drilling, in our Essequibo region and our waters off its coast.