Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017


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Brazil and Venezuela
(Aired 10 March 2004)

My last commentary on India/Brazil attempted to show that this country would be far better off aligning itself to Brazil than to India and the reasons why this is so.

I would now like to bring into the equation the Venezuelan claim to our land and what a strategic alliance with Brazil could mean to us.

First of all this road to Georgetown from Brazil will be on land which the Venezuelans claim as theirs and would be the first major step to building something substantial in the Essequibo since independence, without Venezuelan interfering with it.

...To put what I want to tell you tonight in perspective, we have to look at these two countries Brazil and Venezuela and make a determination as to whether Venezuela can block any moves to build this road which is so important to the Brazilian states of Amazonas and Roraima and to us here in Guyana.

   But first I want to look at the claim briefly, we all know that the Venezuelan claim is complete nonsense, our border dispute with them was settled since 1899 at which time all claims against British Guiana was settled by a tribunal which was a full, perfect and final settlement of all claims and was agreed to unanimously by the judges arbitrating the matter.

  As a result of the award the British lost control of the mouths of the Amakura the Barima and the Orinoco rivers in addition to a large tract of territory in the upper Cuyuni Basin, the Venezuelans were not entirely satisfied with the award, they never are, but Benjamin Harrison a former president of the United States and Severo Mallet-Prevost two lawyers who represented Venezuela in the tribunal were quoted by the London Times of 5th October 1899 as declaring the award was "Venezuela's Victory", Mallet-Prevost was emphatic about the "Victory" and stated that the award was of great value to Venezuela since it granted that country the Orinoco river estuary, the Americans accepted the boundaries which were drawn after the arbitration and according to its decisions and on the 7th January 1905 in British Guiana the boundary as set out on a map and was signed by the boundary commissioners of Venezuela, Great Britain and the US, Venezuela actually published maps agreeing with this settlement in 1911 and 1917.

   The controversy that arose after all of this concerned a letter written Mallet-Prevost which was published after his death, in which he claimed that there was collaboration between the British and the Russian judges to defraud the Venezuelans of their property. At the time that this posthumous nonsense was published the Russian Judge, the British judges and the American judges who participated in the tribunal's decision had all died and could not defend themselves or their decision. It is noteworthy that having been part of the panel that prevented a war between Venezuela, the US and Great Britain in the way the award was made, the Russian jurist which Provost and now the Venezuelans claimed was a crook was given the Nobel Prize for peace in 1902 three years after the settlement for averting a war in settling the claim.

   The Venezuelan claim is therefore based on a letter published more than 25 years after the award by a complete madman who had strong ties to Venezuela since he received honours from them in the intervening years after the award and before his death.

This is what Venezuela calls a border dispute. There is no dispute, the Essequibo is ours but the UN good officer process has yielded nothing for 40 years preventing this country from developing its own land. It is time to settle this nonsense.

   The road from Brazil will be on lands the Venezuelans claim as theirs and notwithstanding the oil factor, since most of Venezuela's oil goes to the US, the Venoes will have to argue with the Brazilians about it.

   By and large the Brazilans are a peaceful people they share borders with every nation on the South American continent except two, and have no active disputes with any of them. The Venezuelans on the other hand have disputes with Guyana, Columbia and claims continental privileges which affect most of the Caribbean Sea which includes most of the little islands far as Dominica.

   Lets see who will be arguing with whom if this road and the Brazilan development that accompanies it becomes a reality, Brazil has 182 million people; Venezuela has 24 million people; the GDP of Brazil is 1.376 Trillion US dollars; the Venezuelans GDP is only 131 Billion; so the Brazilian economy is 10 times greater. The military manpower available to Venezuela is 6.8 million with expenditures for the military of 934 million US dollars a year, the potential military manpower of the Brazilians is 51 million with military expenditures of 13.4 Billion US dollars a year, thirteen times greater than Venezuela's. and for the first time in history the Venezuelans can't go running to uncle Sam for help, Chavez has seen to that, so a window of opportunity has been created for us and the Brazilans, which we must take advantage of. Now! We must cash in on the political confusion in Venezuela, and the poor relations between Venezuela and the US at this time. Chavez is forgetting who his real friends are let us not forget who ours are.

   So in every regard Brazil wields the bigger stick and can tell the Venezuelans to go to hell if they want to with impunity. If the Brazilian businessmen invest 10 billion US in this development of the Roraima and Amazonas states because they would have access to the Atlantic ocean through Guyana, which Venezuelan will dare to challenge them, I'll tell you which; none! For the first time in 40 years we will be developing our own land without someone telling us that we can't.

   This is why the road to Brazil must terminate in the Essequibo, nowhere else, it is a military and strategic necessity. Anyone who wants to terminate it in the Demerara or Berbice rivers is a complete fool. Brazilian money will be building the deep water harbour so they will dredge what is necessary to accommodate the huge Panamax vessels which requires a depth of at least 56 ft.; because of space limitations Georgetown is out of the question anyway, so the decision is between Berbice and the Essequibo, the Berbice estates are not in imminent danger of being shut down, so for another reason it is imperative that the Eastern side of the Essequibo [the Parika to Roden Rust area] be the location of the deep water harbour and will create a lot of jobs for the people in the Demerara Region.

   So I will ask the question again "what the hell are we waiting for" the bridge across the river between Guyana and Brazil is being built as I am speaking to you here tonight, where is the road? And why is our government so reluctant to force it through, sure it will have an effect on the ethnic balance in this country if there is substantial settlement along this road but Guyana must come first and not keeping a bunch of incompetent, corrupt people in power in this country forever, proudly collecting HIPC money. In one full page of the Chronicle of Sunday February 29th February 2004 someone called Rajendra Rampersaud is telling us what a great achievement it was to have been only the ninth country to achieve the distinction of fulfilling the criteria of being an enhanced HIPC nation and not just a HIPC one. How very progressive Rampersaud.