St Vincent PM says Guyana Should ‘Sleep Better’ After Argyle Declaration

(CMC) – Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, said that Guyana, with its smaller population and military, should “sleep better” now that the leaders of Guyana and Venezuela have agreed to not use force to settle the border dispute.

Gonsalves, who was an “interlocutor” in the talks held at Argyle International Airport in St Vincent, added that President Irfaan Ali and President Nicolas Maduro returned to their respective countries last Thursday feeling that they had won “important victories.”

The Joint Declaration of Argyle for Dialogue and Peace between Guyana and Venezuela meant that the two countries agreed that “any controversies” between them will be resolved in accordance with international law, including the Geneva Agreement dated February 17, 1966.

“If you are Guyana, 800,000 persons with a tiny army, not very well equipped, and you’re facing a better-equipped army in a dispute, that is to say from Venezuela, a country with 30 million people more than 30 times your population, and you get the first point that both countries agreed that neither of them would directly or indirectly threaten or use force against one another in any circumstance, including those consequential to any existing controversies between the two states, that should make you sleep better if you are the weaker of the two, wouldn’t it?” Gonsalves asked.

Gonsalves, speaking on a radio programme on Sunday, said that the preparations for the meeting were very thorough, adding that ahead of the talks, Kingstown had prepared a document entitled “possible ideas towards a Pact of Argyle”.

“And that document was the basis upon which discussion took place to find the language to fashion, the declaration, the communique,” he said.

He said he decided not to circulate that document to any of the principals, adding that it was not circulated to Caricom until the start of the talks “for security reasons, because we didn’t want that document to go into the public domain”.

He said the document was discussed first by the Caricom leaders who attended the talks, “and then when we met with President Ali, heard him out and then at the conclusion of that presentation, this document was given to him and his team so that they could reflect on it, and to see how they can begin to think about the requisite language to be used,” noting that a similar thing happened with Maduro when he made his presentation to Caricom.

The prime minister said there was a lengthy discussion in terms of the drafting of this final communique “because each side wanted the words to be carefully crafted to reflect their respective positions”.