Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, believes that patience, wisdom, and mature judgment are necessary in this situation because he thinks that the ongoing territorial dispute between Guyana and Venezuela could turn into a major catastrophe in the Caribbean.
During his Face-to-Face program, Gonsalves discussed the incident and called it a challenging problem. He points out that, historically, CARICOM has backed the integrity of Guyana’s borders as established by their own Constitution.
Prime Minister Gonsalves says CARICOM has supported the resolution of the dispute through the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which has already ruled that it has jurisdiction over the matter. In January 2024 the matter should be heard.
However, Dr Gonsalves says it is unclear if Venezuela is going to appear before the court as on the preliminary issue about jurisdiction, Venezuela said the court does not have jurisdiction. The Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines says waters have been muddied a little where the Government of Venezuela has decided they would have a consultative referendum on the issue and some of the questions posed to be answered on the referendum have created some genuine difficulties.
Gonsalves says the Caribbean is a zone of peace and people should have conversations, as he says even if one side is not enthused about going to the ICJ, this is the mechanism to solve disputes.
The prime minister says he knows many persons will be calling on him to express a view on this current situation.
“We have to approach this thing with understanding, wisdom and knowledge against the background of existing international law and the Caribbean being a zone of peace.
We have to make sure we do things in a peaceful, non-hysterical manner and we have a calm and a patience.”
The prime minister says he understands in each country passions are running high as it is difficult circumstances that are emerging.