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
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.