María Alejandra Díaz Marín
Aquatic spaces are essential. Not only for their quality as a source of life and food, but also as a means of communication, their binding role between peoples, and for the wealth and resources they contain, they made international trade possible. “The sea is the beginning of all geography,” wrote Jules Michelet. We add that the sea is the beginning of all geopolitics, the geographic consciousness of the State.
Our potential thalassocratic condition and close ties with the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, as well as the relevance of our Atlantic façade, make us a coveted territory: all our navigable rivers and tributaries of the Orinoco tributary have an outlet to the Ocean.
Guyana, as a puppet of the old British Empire (perfidious Albion) and the worldwide Anglo-Zionist corporatocracy, seeks to dispossess and plunder us, castrating our possibility of real development of the Venezuelan aquatic power and at the same time collecting from us a kind of debt (vacuna) pending with its old enemy, the Spanish Empire.
In this regard, historian Julian T. Jackson relates the mention made by Winston Churchill, former British Prime Minister to French General Charles de Gaulle in 1944: “you must know that, if we have to choose between Europe and the open seas, we will always choose the open seas”.
Our Guayana Esequiba is valuable as a territory rich in natural and mineral resources. But that is the tactical aspect and not the strategic one, the strategic aspect is the maritime commercial communicational control, therein lies the real interest of Guyana and its UK masters want to strip us of what is ours: to take the continent (from Punta Barima to the Argentine Patagonia) through the application of maritime and fluvial turnstiles (Brexit) and together with the promise of the Silk Road, a friendly land version of the Chinese (which we do not hesitate to point out as a good distractor).
The Essequibo is vital and is the inoculation imposed on us to consolidate the UK’s advancement plan: control of the Caribbean Sea and the navigation of the rivers, in its thalassocratic geo-strategy and Anglo-Zionist corporatist ambition of the American continent, as Churchill once said.
As foreseen by Helen Thompson in the Chatham House: “Complications are looming for all at a forced march in what is a global readjustment of privileges and inequalities between nations in supra and sub-national spaces (…) for this reason the UK must rethink its geopolitical values and principles”.
This is supported by Chancellor Raab, when he referred to Brexit and the vision of Global Britain: one of the great benefits of leaving this “cage”, according to the government’s vision, is that the country will have the freedom to negotiate trade agreements with the whole world. ‘”We want to be good European neighbors and global free trade buccaneers”.
The buccaneers of global free trade, using financial, commercial and maritime power, as well as strategies, doctrines and geopolitical theories such as those of vital space (Ratzel), geometry of occupation (Weizman), accumulation by dispossession (Harvey), geometry of Empire (Arrighi), seek to alleviate the crisis of over-accumulation of global capital.
Just as England and Israel did with the colonial settlements in Palestine yesterday, which caused massive displacement of its population and permanent dispossession of the territory (Nakba or catastrophe), with Venezuela they seek to besiege us, seeking to make the Venezuelan Essequibo a neocolonial enclave; in the past with the United Nations (UN) in hand, today through the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the legal arm of the former.
With the Treaties of Westphalia or the Treaty of Utrecht of April 11, 1713, the intra-imperial struggle as a consequence of the war of succession for the Spanish Crown was defined in favor of England and Holland, with the distribution and subsequent dispossession of territories from the Spanish Empire, allowing them to traffic black slaves in Spanish Indies territory and trade routes.
In this context, the Guyana case before the ICJ represents an expression of soft law: doctrines, treaties, judgments and pacts that are supposed to be supranational. Currently, the maneuver is being applied through a flawed judgment that seeks to impose a supranational country on us, simulating justice, but clearly acting 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 and with it the continent.
It is essential to know their actions and identify their strategies of historical falsifications, lies, omissions, manipulations of facts and historical documents. Lies such as those alleged by the British Empire during the Arbitration of 1899, regarding the settlements that existed in the Essequibo area from 1596 to 1723, must be exposed. They lied shamelessly when they assured that the only Spanish settlement that was in the province was Santo Thomé de Guayana on the south bank of the Orinoco River, the only additional points occupied between 1723 and 1796 were the stations of the Capuchin Missions south of the Orinoco.
Recent historiographical studies such as Karina Extraño’s Pueblos Mestizos y “de españoles” al Sur de Orinoco disprove this: the participation of the Zambos, mulatos, cimarrones and other peoples of color in the settlement and territorial control of Spanish Guayana in the second half of the 18th century. Second half of the XVIII century. See more in: (https://www.redalyc.org/jatsRepo/712/71256133008/html/index.html).
Another fact that exposes this lie is the presence of Missions (Franciscan, Catalan, Jesuit), which 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 foundation of dozens of towns where indigenous people from very diverse tribes and slaves escaped from the Dutch colony would be accepted as free citizens of the new Spanish communities, as foreseen in the Spanish Constitution of 1812 (called La Pepa). Article 1 states: “The Spanish Nation is the gathering of all Spaniards from both hemispheres”; intermarriages were finally accepted and promoted: all were Spanish citizens, the very basis of our miscegenation and the reason why in Venezuela most surnames are of Spanish origin (while in Guyana the most common surnames today derive from given names: Guillermo, Tomás, etc. ).
Following the script to concretize the dispossession; in collusion with the United States and a Russian judge, Great Britain argued that in 1616 the Dutch established settlements in the territory between the Corentyne and the Orinoco, and that from then until British Guyana was acquired by Great Britain, they continuously extended their 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 Treaty of Munster, Spain merely recognized the Dutch rights over the ports it possessed at that time and, by recognizing the independence of Venezuela, Spain formally renounced all sovereignty, rights and claims previously belonging to Spain, including the disputed region, in its favor (Uti possidetis iuris).
When Great Britain acquired the territories of Guyana in 1814, the border of the Colony was the Essequibo River, as shown on several maps printed in England, and the Essequibo line was Schomburgk’s original line of 1835, as shown on the map he drew before becoming partial to the interests of his British masters.
It is not certain that the Dutch extended their settlements to the north of the Essequibo, apart from a very limited partial invasion delimited by the Pomeroon River, certified by British cartographers in 1838 or earlier (Cfr. Hadfield 1839). Punta Barima was destroyed and no longer existed by the end of the 18th century. In 1841 Schomburgk’s attempts to install 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 for our knowledge, in the Spanish literature of the XVIII century there is a great amount of information about all the numerous tribes that lived in Guyana, displaced by the British to “plant settlers” that after the unlawful Award of 1899 appeared as inhabitants of the area taken from Venezuela.
This soft power, whose clearest expression of soft law was the Award of 1899, where none of the four volumes presented by the defense made on behalf of Venezuela – since we could not participate with our own voice due to the imposition of the British Empire – before the Arbitration Tribunal was reviewed, analyzed and weighed, if it had been done, with these incontrovertible data, they could never in law and justice have dictated such an absurdity, that is why they could not justify it, it was impossible to justify it.
It was not until 1949 when the Venezuelan suspicions and accusations were revealed: a certified confession of Severo Mallet-Prevost (American lawyer who represented Venezuela in the Arbitration Tribunal) with exhaustive details, gave an account of the political compromise, corruption, abuse of power, coercion and illegal handling under which the ruling that dispossesses us was dictated.
Our struggle yielded results and in 1966 the Geneva Agreement was reached as a solution to the boundary dispute, making Venezuela’s position clear: “the 1899 Award is null and void”. Guyana interprets this Agreement to its convenience, appeals to the Secretary General of the OAS and alleges that the nullity of the Award has not been decided in a judgment of any valid court and therefore aims for the jugular vein requesting a review of the nullity alleged by Venezuela since 1899.
Guyana, feigning insanity with respect to the 1966 Agreement, requested the ICJ not to delimit as established in the Agreement, but to validate the null and void Award. The ICJ touched those arguments and decided: it recognized the role assigned to the UN Secretary General in the 1966 Agreement, since it defines the path that should be followed and therefore its decision to send it to the ICJ is considered by the ICJ as valid.
The ICJ concludes that this decision of the UN Secretary General does not clearly attribute jurisdiction, but it is the way in which the States parties accepted the jurisdiction of the ICJ, when they consented to be part of the 1966 Agreement: Pacta sunt servanda, because by agreeing to take the decision to a judicial body one day (one of the options of Art. 33 of the Charter) they expressed their consent to it, obviating the mutual consent that should deprive this decision.
We cannot be naive and think that sitting down today with Guyana to talk about new boundaries is an option, realistically we believe that this will not happen, especially because our territory is at stake before a jurisdictional instance (valid or not, depending on the criterion) and before a possible decision on the validity of the Award. No one who has an advantage in a dispute because of the planned defenselessness of the other party, abandons it to peacefully agree on boundaries, that is self-deception.
We emphasize, in this particular case, the path of rejecting the competence and jurisdiction of the ICJ will not lead to anything good: the opportunity to question the validity of the Award will be lost forever and also demonstrate that the 1966 Agreement left open a territorial dispute dating back to the times of Bolivar.
The struggle for the Essequibo is to comply with the vision of the Liberator Simón Bolívar.
The ICJ has said in a sentence of December 18, 2020 that it does not care about what happened after 1966, and it is essential to mention this. While Guyana submitted three volumes of documentation on the period 1966-2018, those facts do not seem to interest the ICJ. That has no value, there is no jurisdiction over that, what matters is to demonstrate that the Award is null and void, and after that, as the Court has expressly said, the new boundaries of Venezuela will be determined and there we have much to say and prove, we are historically, politically and legally right about the Essequibo as part of our territory.
Guyana-UK shows itself as the juridical weakling and alleges 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 we were dispossessed of that territory in 1899.
The territory of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana is the one that corresponded as it was inherited from the United Kingdom, which is equivalent to 55,427 Km² and reached to the east of the Essequibo River, that is what is real. We have enough data, maps and elements to prove it and this must be done wherever and before whomever. The rest is the geometric fiction of the Schomburgk line, drawn arbitrarily, in a strategy of constant lies to establish in the world’s imagination, something that never was.
The possible refusal of certain legal advisors, who yesterday simply defended the instance of the ICJ, and so declared as stated in the interview they were given on July 18, 2015 to the newspaper El Nacional, seems to be a planned defencelessness that repeats itself, one that we cannot allow under any circumstances. In this statement the expert jurists said, and I quote: “Venezuela is prepared to go to the ICJ in the process of recovery of the Essequibo… to reach that instance all the steps of the Geneva Agreement must be exhausted”, with this in 2015 the door was opened to the interpretation that Guyana and the Court itself assumed in its judgment of December 18, 2020, a crass mistake.
We must demand our rights wherever and whenever, or risk becoming, as India was, the “strategic rearguard” (Arrighi) of the British Empire, allowing this territorial occupation of the Essequibo via soft law, to become “the sinister and destructive aspect of the spatio-temporal solutions to the problem of overaccumulation” (Harvey/Arrighi).
The greatest deterrent a country can have is a conscious people determined to defend its territory, its values and its sovereignty. Disinformation on the Essequibo case is not an option. Our greatest strategic deterrent is for the people to understand that their emancipating tradition and the soil that supports it, rich in assets: oil, water, environment, climate, gold, and other invaluable resources, in this situation of crisis of capitalist over-accumulation, gives us a comparative and competitive advantage.
With Delgado Chalbaud we say: Sovereignty is something that not everyone understands, it is not taken away, nor given, it is an abstract, sublime and immanent idea, an immaterial principle and of divine origin, and when dealing with its existence and application, it is necessary to understand that it resides neither in the soil, nor in the air, nor in the sky of this or that region, but in the soul of men and in the essence of the peoples, it is a fire that one does not know where it burns but whose heat is felt, it is conjugation in the most intimate and recondite of the homeland, the exact notion of dignity and the sacred feeling of freedom well understood.
No to the planned defenselessness of ideological and juridical subjects! Not to participate on the assumption that we are lost is to give up. The Essequibo and Venezuela will not be the meat of third parties’ geopolitical pacts and their submerged geopolitics.
It is up to us to do battle!
Translation by Internationalist 360°