By María Alejandra Díaz Marìn – Feb 21, 2021
Essential, aquatic spaces… Not only because of their quality as a source of life and food, but also as means of communication, their binding role among peoples, and because of the wealth and resources they contain, they made international trade possible. “The sea is the beginning of all geography,” wrote Jules Michelet. We can add that the sea is the beginning of all geopolitics, the geographical consciousness of the State.
Our potential thalassocratic condition and close relationship with the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, as well as the relevance of our Atlantic coast, makes ours a coveted territory: all our navigable rivers and tributaries of the Orinoco are taxed and have an outlet to the ocean.
Guyana, as a puppet of the old British empire (Perfidious Albion) and the world Anglo-Zionist corporatocracy, seeks to deprive us and plunder us, castrating our possibility of real development of the Venezuelan Aquatic Power and incidentally collects a kind of pending debt with its old enemy, the Spanish Empire.
In this regard, the historian Julian T. Jackson relates the words of Winston Churchill, former British Prime Minister, to the French General Charles de Gaulle in 1944: “If Britain must choose between Europe and the open sea, she must always choose the open sea.”
Our Guyana Esequiba is valuable as a territory rich in natural and mineral resources. But that is the tactical aspect and not the strategic one. What is strategic is the maritime commercial communication control, that is the true interest of Guyana and its master UK, to strip us of what is ours: to control the continent (from Punta Barima to Patagonia Argentina) through the application of maritime and river barriers (through Brexit) and together with the promise of the Silk Road, as a land-friendly version of the Chinese (which we do not hesitate to point out as a good distraction).
The Essequibo territory is vital, and the UK is making us pay a high price for this key to consolidating its plan: control of the Caribbean Sea and river navigation, as part of its thalassocratic geostrategy and Anglo-Zionist corporatist ambitions regarding the American continent, as Churchill said.
As Helen Thompson envisions it at Chatham House, “complications are coming for all at a forced march in what is a global readjustment of privileges and inequalities between nations and in supra- and sub-national spaces… for this reason the UK must rethink it geopolitical values and principles”
This is supported by UK’s Foreign Secretary [Dominic] Raab, when he refers to Brexit and the vision of Global Britain: one of the great benefits of getting out of this “cage,” according to the government’s vision, is that the country will have the freedom to negotiate trade agreements with all the world. They want to be good European neighbors and buccaneers of world free trade.
The buccaneers of global free trade, using factors (financial, commercial and maritime power), as well as geopolitical strategies, doctrines and theories such as those of Vital Space (Ratzel), Geometry of occupation (Weizman), accumulation by dispossession (Harvey), and geometry of Empire (Arrighi), seek to alleviate the crisis of over-accumulation of global capital.
As England and Israel did in the past with Palestine, with the colonial settlements that caused the massive displacement of its population and the permanent dispossession of the territory (the Nakba, or catastrophe), today with Venezuela they seek to corner us, using a Venezuelan Essequibo neocolonial enclave; yesterday hand in hand with the UN, today through its legal appendage, the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
With the Treaties of Westphalia or that of Utrecht of April 11, 1713, the intra-imperial struggle as a consequence of the war of succession by the Spanish crown was defined in favor of England and the Netherlands, with the distribution and subsequent dispossession of territories to the Spanish empire, allowing them the traffic of black slaves in the territory of the Spanish Indies and trade routes.
In this context, the case of Guyana before the ICJ represents an instance of “soft law”: doctrines, treaties, judgments and agreements that are supposed to be supranational. Currently, the UK tries to impose itself on a sovereign nation [Venezuela] through a flawed judgement, purportedly legal, but acting clearly to favor the global plan led by the UK and its subject Guyana in the task of dividing the Venezuelan territory and taking the Orinoco river, and with it the continent.
Knowing their actions and identifying their strategies of historical falsifications, lies, omissions, manipulations of facts and historical documents, is essential. Lies like those alleged during the Arbitration of 1899, used by the British Empire, regarding the settlements that existed in the Essequibo area from 1596 to 1723, must be exposed. They blatantly lied when they assured that the only Spanish settlement that was in the province was Santo Thomé de Guyana on the south bank of the Orinoco River, between 1723 and 1796, and that the only additional places occupied were the stations of the Capuchin Missions south of the Orinoco river.
Recent historiographic studies such as that of Karina Extraño, Pueblos Mestizos and “DE ESPAÑOLES” from the south of Orinoco, contradict this, and reveal the presence of zambos, mulattos, maroons and other peoples of color in the settlement under the territorial control of Spanish Guyana, in the second half of the 18th century. See more at: (https://www.redalyc.org/jatsRepo/712/71256133008/html/index.html).
Another fact that uncovers this lie is the presence of missions (Franciscan, Catalan, Jesuit) that were an essential instrument to effectively govern and develop the territory south of the Orinoco with the support of the Spanish militias. Throughout the 18th century they stimulated the founding of dozens and dozens of towns where indigenous peoples from various tribes, and also slaves escaped from the Dutch colony, would be accepted as free citizens of the new Spanish communities, as provided for by the Spanish Constitution of 1812 (referred to as La Pepa). As the Constitution points out: Article 1: “The Spanish Nation is the meeting of all Spaniards from both hemispheres.” Eventually mixed marriages were accepted and promoted. All were Spanish citizens, the source of our miscegenation and the reason why in Venezuela most surnames are of Spanish origin (while in Guyana the most common surnames today are derived from first names: Guillermo, Tomás, etc.).
Following the script for the dispossession: in conjunction with the US and the Russian Judge, Great Britain argued that in 1616 the Dutch established settlements in the territory between the Corentyne and the Orinoco river, and from then until British Guiana was acquired by Great Britain it continually extended its settlements in various parts of the territory, when the truth is that Spain was the first country to discover and occupy the territory of Guyana (animus domini), and until the independence of Venezuela it remained under its exclusive sovereignty and effective control (animus corpus).
At the time of the Munster Treaty, Spain limited itself to recognizing the Dutch rights over the ports that it possessed at that time and, by recognizing the independence of Venezuela, Spain formally renounced in Venezuela’s favor all sovereignty, rights and claims that previously belonged to Spain, including the disputed region (uti possidetis juris).
When Great Britain acquired the territories of Guyana in 1814, the border of the Colony was the Essequibo River, as shown in several maps printed in England, and the Essequibo line was the original Schomburgk line of 1835, as as shown on the map that he drew before capitulating to the interests of his British masters.
It’s not true that the Dutch extended their settlements north of the Essequibo, apart from a very limited partial invasion bounded by the Pomeroon River, certified by British cartographers in 1838 or earlier (Cf. Hadfield, 1839). Punta Barima was destroyed and no longer existed at the end of the 18th century. In 1841 Schomburgk’s attempts to place British landmarks as a pretext for occupation and possession were immediately repelled and stopped by the Venezuelan authority (animus corpus).
First Spain, then Venezuela effectively occupied the disputed territory—this area was never a terra nullius—just check the maps and cities of the Essequibo area for the Spanish names of rivers, mountains and towns. Another important detail: in the Spanish literature of the 18th century there’s a large amount of information about all the numerous tribes that lived in Guyana, displaced by the British to “sow settlers” who after the invalid Arbitration Award of 1899 appeared as inhabitants of the area stripped from Venezuela.
This soft power, of which the clearest expression of soft law was the Arbitration Award of 1899, when none of the four (4) volumes that presented the defense made on behalf of Venezuela—since we could not participate with our own voice due to the British Empire—before The Arbitration Court was reviewed, analyzed and weighed. If the defense had been reviewed, with all of this incontrovertible data, they could never have legally dictated such an outrage.
It wasn’t until 1949 when the Venezuelan suspicions and accusations were revealed to be true. A certified confession of Severo Mallet-Prevost (a US lawyer who represented Venezuela in the Arbitration Court) with exhaustive details, gives an account of the political compromise, the corruption, the abuse of power, coercion and illegal handling by which the ruling that deprives us [of the Essequibo territory] was issued.
Our struggle gave results and in 1966 the Geneva Agreement was achieved as a way of solving the border controversy, making Venezuela’s position clear: “the Arbitration Award of 1899 is null and void.” Guyana interprets this Agreement at its convenience, appeals to the Secretary General of the OAS and alleges that the nullification of the Arbitration Award wasn’t determined by the judgment of a valid court, and therefore aims for the jugular, requesting that the nullification be reviewed.
Guyana, feigning insanity with regard to the 1966 Agreement, requested the ICJ not to abide by the borders as established in the Agreement, but to validate the null and void Arbitration Award [from1899]. The ICJ addressed these arguments and decided: it recognized the role assigned to the UN Secretary General in the 1966 Agreement, since it defined the path that should be followed and therefore its decision to send it to the ICJ is considered by the latter as valid.
The ICJ concluded that this decision of the UN Secretary General does not clearly attribute jurisdiction, but was a way in which the parties accepted the jurisdiction of the ICJ, when they agreed to be part of the 1966 Agreement: pacta sunt servanda—because by accepting to take the decision one day to a judicial body (one of the options of Article 33 of the Charter) they expressed their consent with it.
We cannot be naive and think that sitting down with Guyana today to talk about new boundaries is an option. Being realistic, we believe that this is not going to happen, especially since our territory is at stake before a jurisdictional body (valid or not, depending on the criterion) and before a possible decision on the validity of the 1899 Arbitration Award. Nobody who has an advantage in a dispute because of the planned defenselessness of the other party abandons it to peacefully agree boundaries, that is self-deception.
We insist, in this particular case, the route of rejecting the jurisdiction of the ICJ, it will not come to anything good: the opportunity to question the validity of the Arbitration Award and also demonstrate that the 1966 Agreement left open a territorial dispute of the times of Bolívar. The fight for the Essequibo is to fulfill what was the vision of the Liberator Simón Bolívar.
The ICJ has said in a judgment of December 18, 2020 that it doesn’t care what happened after 1966—mentioning this is essential. While Guyana submitted three (3) volumes of documentation on the 1966-2018 period, the ICJ doesn’t seem to be interested in these facts. That has no value, there is no jurisdiction over it, what matters is to show that the Arbitration Award is null, and after this, as the Court has expressly said, the new boundaries of Venezuela are going to be determined and there we have a lot to say and prove, we are assisted by the historical, political and legal reason about the Essequibo as part of our territory.
Guyana-UK presents itself as the weaker legal entity and claims possession of the territory since 1966, a possession that has been neither uninterrupted nor much less peaceful: the Geneva Agreement of 1966 leaves open the delimitation of borders with Venezuela and its alleged possession is the product of a robbery and a fraud with which they stripped us of that territory in 1899.
The territory of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, as it was inherited from the United Kingdom, corresponds to the equivalent of 55,427 km² and reached the East of the Essequibo River. We have enough data, maps and elements to prove it and this can be done anywhere and in front of any audience. The rest is the geometric fiction of Schomburgk’s line, drawn arbitrarily, in a strategy of constant lies to establish in the imagination of the world, something that never was.
The possible refusal assumed by certain advisory jurists, who yesterday simply defended the instance of the ICJ, and thus declared it as stated in the interview they made on July 18, 2015 to the newspaper El Nacional, seems a planned defenselessness, one that we cannot allow under any circumstances. In this statement the expert jurists said “Venezuela is prepared to go to the ICJ in the process of recovering the Essequibo… to reach that instance all the steps of the Geneva Agreement must be exhausted.” With this, in 2015 it opened the door to the interpretation that Guyana and the Court itself assumed in their judgment of December 18, 2020, a gross error.
We must demand our Rights wherever and whenever, in danger of becoming, like India was, the “strategic rearguard” (Arrighi) of the British Empire, if we allow the territorial occupation of the Essequibo.
The greatest deterrent that a country can have is a people who are conscious and determined to defend their territory, their values and their sovereignty. Our greatest strategic deterrent is for the people to understand their emancipatory tradition, and the value of the soil is rich in resources: oil, water, gold, and other invaluable resources, in this situation of the crisis of capitalist over-accumulation. This gives us a comparative advantage and a competitive one.
With Delgado Chalbaud we say: Sovereignty is something that not everyone understands, it is not taken away, nor is it given, it is an abstract, sublime and immanent idea, in an immaterial principle and of divine origin, and when dealing with its existence and application, it’s necessary to understand that it resides neither on the ground, nor in the air, nor in the sky of this or that region, but in the soul of men and in the essence of people.
No to the planned defenselessness of the ideological and legal subjects! Not participating, assuming we are lost is equivalent to giving up. The Essequibo and Venezuela will not be the ex-officio meat of third party geopolitical pacts and their submerged geopolitics
We have to fight!
Featured image: Official Map of the United States of Venezuela by L. Robelin 1890, which shows the Venezuelan historical claim to the Essequibo and other disputed territories to the south.
Translation: Orinoco Tribune