Caracas (OrinocoTribune.com)—The International Court of Justice (ICJ) rejected the provisional measure requested by Guyana to suspend Venezuela’s referendum on the Essequiba territory scheduled for Sunday, December 3.
In a press release published on Friday, December 1, the ICJ announced the following provisional measures that were approved unanimously by the court:
1- Pending a final decision in the case, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela shall refrain from taking any action which would modify the situation that currently prevails in the territory in dispute, whereby the Cooperative Republic of Guyana administers and exercises control over that area;
2- Both Parties shall refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the Court or make it more difficult to resolve.
On October 30, Guyana had filed a request at the ICJ headquarters in The Hague demanding provisional measures on the Venezuelan consultative referendum on the Essequibo called by the Venezuelan National Assembly. The measures requested by Guyana were the following:
1- Venezuela shall not proceed with the Consultative Referendum planned for 3 December 2023 in its present form;
2- Venezuela shall not include the First, Third or Fifth questions in the Consultative Referendum;
3- Nor shall Venezuela include within the ‘Consultative Referendum’ planned, or any other public referendum, any question encroaching upon the legal issues to be determined by the Court in its Judgment on the Merits.
4- Venezuela shall not take any actions that are intended to prepare or allow the exercise of sovereignty or de facto control over any territory that was awarded to British Guiana in the 1899 Arbitral Award.
5- Venezuela shall refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the Court or make it more difficult to resolve.
A detailed analysis of the complete ruling evidence a clear bias of the Court against the rightful claims of Venezuela, enumerating in a critical manner sovereign Venezuelan decisions to advocated for its historical territorial claims. Similarly, the court avoided making any criticism of Guyana’s provocative actions like granting oil concessions in waters belonging to Venezuela that are not even part of the territorial dispute; threatening statements by the Guyanese President Mohamed Irfaan Ali; recurrent Guyanese military drills with the United States Southern Command in the disputed region; and xenophobic violence against Venezuelans in Guyana.
According to legal experts, the ICJ ruling rejecting Guyana’s demands may be considered a victory for Venezuela as far as its right to hold an internal referendum is concerned. Similarly, the second provisional measure, stating that “both parties shall refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the Court or make it more difficult to resolve,” seems to slightly recognize the fact that it is not only the actions of Venezuela that is aggravating the controversy.
On this issue, the president of the National Assembly of Venezuela, Jorge Rodríguez, said the ICJ ruling does not prevent Sunday’s vote but rather blocks Guyana from granting new oil concessions.
On Tuesday, November 28, during the monthly Free Alex Saab picket organized by Venezuela Peace Committee in Winnipeg (Canada), Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, and Just Peace Advocates, Orinoco Tribune editor Jesús Rodriguez-Espinoza made a brief but precise analysis on the controversy around the Referendum and the historical fight of the Venezuelan people to defend the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
President Maduro’s reaction to ICJ’s provisional measures (+Guyana)
At a massive rally closing the campaign for the referendum on Essequibo, the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, said that the ICJ ruling was a victory for Venezuela.
“We have had a historic victory today in the Court of The Hague,” he said. “Guyana wanted the Court to annul the [Venezuelan] Constitution and prohibit the Venezuelan people from voting… We will not tolerate if anyone comes to sabotage the referendum, because the referendum is a primary issue for all Venezuelans.”
He once again called on the president of Guyana to return to the 1966 Geneva Agreement, which states that the territorial dispute must be resolved by mutual agreement, something that Guyana abandoned by unilaterally submitting the issue to the ICJ. “President of Guyana, you have to return to the Geneva Agreement, respect Venezuela, that Venezuela is the Homeland of Simón Bolívar who gave freedom to all of America,” Maduro said.
Meanwhile, Guyanese President Mohamed Irfaan Ali also welcomed the ruling and tried to portray it as a victory for Guyana. He said, in a video statement posted on social media, that the decision makes clear that “Venezuela is prohibited from annexing or trespassing upon Guyanese territory or taking any other actions” altering the boundary of Guyana established in 1899 by the invalid Paris Arbitral Award, irrespective of the outcome of any referendum.
Official Venezuelan statement
On Friday, Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodríguez held a press conference to announce the official position of Venezuela on the ICJ ruling. “Guyana’s requests were rejected. Venezuela exercised its defense, this is an internal matter,” she said.
Rodríguez read out the official Venezuelan statement on the decision, the unofficial translation of which is presented below:
The government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela takes note of the ruling issued by the International Court of Justice, concerning the unusual and interventionist provisional measures requested by the Cooperative Republic of Guyana against the consultative referendum scheduled for December 3, 2023.
Venezuela ratifies that, true to its historical position, it does not recognize the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice to settle the territorial controversy surrounding the Essequibo, especially given the existence of the 1966 Geneva Agreement.
In the present case, the Cooperative Republic of Guyana had expressly requested that the consultative referendum be canceled or that questions 1, 3 and 5 be modified. In its decision, the Court rejected—as a whole—this unprecedented and unfounded request, which is related to a matter within the exclusive domain of Venezuela.
Nothing in international law allowed the Court to interfere in the internal affairs of Venezuela, nor to try to prohibit or modify a sovereign act organized within the framework of its participatory political system and based on its Constitution.
Likewise, this decision has demonstrated that Guyana is not a victim, it has no titles over the disputed territory, it is a de facto occupier, and has repeatedly violated the Geneva Agreement and international legality by unilaterally granting concessions in the disputed land territory and the waters pending to be delimited, as well as opening up its territory for the military deployment in our region of the largest warmonger power on the planet.
The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, as it had announced and as per its sacred Constitution, will continue with all preparations to carry out the consultative referendum called by the Electoral Council at the request of the Venezuelan Parliament. Nothing and no one will prevent the Venezuelan people from expressing themselves freely on December 3 on their own, internal, and extremely important issue, which is territorial integrity.
Venezuela reiterates that it will firmly maintain its unwavering defense of international legality and the  Geneva Agreement as the only legal instrument that allows reaching a practical and satisfactory solution for both parties, through friendly, political and peaceful negotiations.
The truth of Venezuela and its inalienable sovereignty, constitutionality and self-determination have been victorious.
On December 3, the Venezuelan people will go out to exercise their vote, for the first time in history, to defend their territorial integrity and will ratify that our rights over the Essequibo territory are inalienable and unquestionable.
The Sun of Venezuela rises in the Essequibo!
Caracas, December 1, 2023
Special for Orinoco Tribune by staff
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