More that 300 Guyanese held a peaceful demonstration on Dag Hammarskjold Plaza outside the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, calling for a peaceful resolution to the fight for the South American country’s mineral rich Essequibo Region that Venezuela has laid claim to 116 years ago.
“Guyanese United Will Not Be Divided by Venezuela’s Madura’s Madness;” “Not A Blade of Grass – Guyana Is Trying to Feed Our People, Not Fund Your War;” “Venezuela Get Out of Guyana;” “Essequibo Belongs to Guyana, Let Peace Prevail;” “Maduro Make Friends Not Enemies Because of Oil” were the defiant words plastered on signs, carried by expatriates who bellowed from a bullhorn for the United Nations General Assembly to hear.
The Sept. 29 protest rally was one of many events planned in support of President David Granger and Guyanese at home that have seen an aggressive buildup of heavy artillery and army troops by Venezuela at the border of the two countries.
In return, the Guyana Defense Force showed its might by readying its troops, as President Granger called on Commonwealth states for support, and met with Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon at UN headquarters in N.Y., to engage in dialogue to resolve the conflict.
However, Sherif Fraser, manager of Brooklyn Community Board 17, who carried a sign that said “Not a Blade Of Grass Not One Karass” in reference to Dave Martin’s song – is not backing down, because she does not trust that the amicable agreement is final, and said to Maduro, “it isn’t over till it’s over.”
“We are here today to show support for our president, the government, the people of Guyana and our troops,” said Fraser, a community activist.
“We will not rest until an amicable agreement is met. Guyanese Americans in the Diaspora firmly supports the stance that President Granger has taken at the meeting with Ban Ki Moon, and moving we would like to see this conflict resolved peacefully so that our men and women are not put in harms way,” said the founding director of the Guyana Unity March in Brooklyn.
The border dispute that heated up earlier this year when a drilling exploration by Exxon Corporation discovered particles of oil in the Cuyuni river bordering Venezuela and Guyana. “This action prompted President Nicolas Maduro to halt drilling and arrest the crew of the ship – an illegal act,” said President Granger.
This did not sit very well with the Guyanese citizens, such as Noel Moses, a retired principal of New York who was out in support of President Granger and to garner support via social media, to keep the issue visible.
“We are here to support the unborn, youth, and the elders. Guyana’s position, is to take this to the international Court of Justice. Ban Ki Moon is a player in this arena, and he initiated a fact finding mission to Caracas to settle the matter. We support anything the UN does to bring about a peaceful settlement based on the UN Charter. However, I do not believe that we should procrastinate any kind of settlement that would affect the next generation, said Moses.
“It has been 116 years, from 1899 to now, and we are asking for a peaceful resolution. Venezuela has built an airstrip on Guyana’s Ankoko Island, and has been offering citizenship to Guyanese who live at the border, added Moses.
“We are concerned that Venezuela is amassing troops at the border to engage in some sort of surreptitious move to attack Guyana. We are also aware that Maduro is an outgoing president, unless he is re-elected, we are waiting to see the outcome of the Dec. 6 election process,” said the retired principal.
Erwin ‘Washy” Washington, another vocal supporter of the cause, said, “We are sending a strong message that we will not sit back and allow Venezuela to do what it wants with Guyana’s land. All of Guyana’s 18000 sq. miles of land belongs to us. President Maduro we are not going to have you dictate to us what we should do with our land. This was settled in 1899, and it should stay that way.” Washington is a founding member of the Guyana’s Unity March in Brooklyn.