The power of the United Nations Secretary General (UNSG) to refer the Guyana-Venezuela Border Controversy to the International Court of Justice (ICJ, also known as the World Court) and the jurisdiction of the ICJ to entertain and determine the matter, both provided for by the Geneva Agreement, have been shockingly distorted by Analyst in a February 6 article in Kaieteur News entitled “Recourse to the ICJ is on the basis of a consent regime.’ He argues that the ICJ needs Venezuela’s consent before it can exercise jurisdiction.

On November 7 the same analyst, under the moniker of Peeping Tom, said in Kaieteur News that Guyana has “bungled its handling of the territorial controversy” and “will not achieve its objective of having the matter placed before the ICJ.” This prediction ignominiously failed when the UNSG on January 30 chose the ICJ as a means of settlement. No doubt this failure prompted a change of identification from Peeping Tom to Analyst for his February 6 article so as to disguise his authorship of the November 7 failed prediction. His opinions in the February 6 article are as shallow as the prediction made in his November 7 article.

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By Article IV(1) of the Geneva Agreement of 1966, the Governments of Guyana and Venezuela committed to choosing one of the means of peaceful settlement provided for by article 33 of the Charter of the United Nations (UN), if the Mixed Commission did not arrive at a full agreement for the settlement of the controversy within four years. Judicial settlement was one of those means under article 33. But the part of the article providing for the parties to choose the means of settlement is qualified by Article V. It provides that they are to refer the decision of the means of settlement to an “appropriate international organ on which they both agree,” but failing agreement “to the Secretary General of the United Nations.”

After the conclusion of the mandate of the Mixed Commission, the Governments of Guyana, Venezuela and the United Kingdom entered into an agreement known as the Port of Spain Protocol in June, 1970, which suspended the operation of Article IV of the Geneva Agreement for twelve years. This meant effectively that the formal search under Article IV for a resolution of the controversy was suspended for the period. Guyana and Venezuela undertook to “explore all possibilities of better understanding between them.”

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No matter how often it happens, no matter how much our ears become attuned to the ring of abuse in politics, Guyanese must never allow themselves to become accustomed to it or to be entrapped by it, and to succumb to the temptation of silence. The degeneracy of political and personal abuse has become the hallmark of the PPP’s methodology of political discourse.

Unless it stops, it will intimidate most into silence. For the few who are remain courageous enough, they will have to live, as many now do, with a constant, daily, stream of invective about their public and private lives and activities that defies any sense of rationality or decency.  Little do the perpetrators understand that it is they, not the victims, who the degradation eventually consumes. Cheddi Jagan suffered a lifetime of humiliation and abuse. So intense it was, and over so many decades, that it tempted good people to say that history would not have been kind to him. The opposite has happened.   

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At Dr. Roger Luncheon’s press conference last week, the approval of funds for the establishment of a petting zoo took only second place to the continuing controversy over the USAID LEAD Programme to which the Government has taken objection. In announcing Government’s no objection to the expenditure of $32.5 million for the petting zoo, Dr. Luncheon publicly broke Cabinet solidarity by announcing his objection to the decision to fund the petting zoo which he harshly termed “foolishness” even though he did not know what it was.

It is not known if the tone of Dr. Luncheon’s weekly condemnation of people and things at his press conferences is in inverse proportion to the extent of his knowledge of the particular subject. The violence of his condemnation of the petting zoo, seems to suggest this to be the case. If so, it brings into focus the great strength of his objection to the USAID Project. Shouldn’t we conclude that he does not know what it is?

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