Assignment of Guyana forest is a matter of concern
Venezuelan diplomatic officials are concerned by Hugo Chávez government omissions with respect to the Essequibo territory claim. On this opportunity, Guyana plans to put an important part of its rainforest under the control of a British organization. Nevertheless, the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not made any statement criticizing the decision.
Last June, Guyana proposed a British organization to use its tropical forest to develop environmental programs in exchange for financial aid. According to the proposal, Guyana would assign 21.6 million hectare of its rainforest, of which 15.9 million hectare are claimed by Venezuela.
The controversial initiative was proposed by Guyanese President Bharrat Jagdeo, who was attacked by People's National Congress (PNCR) leaders, the main opposition party in Guyana. PNCR members said that Guyana would lose sovereignty with the cession of part of its territory.
"The sovereignty over our tropical forest is not negotiable," replied Jagdeo to the opposition accusations.
No interest to negotiate
According to Sadio Garavini, a Venezuelan former ambassador to Guyana and an expert in the Essequibo claims, the Venezuelan government should express a clear stance with respect to Jagdeo proposal.
Garavini said that the announcement made by the Guyanese government would have provoked a forceful answer from past Venezuelan diplomatic authorities.
"Venezuela has to analyze the Guyanese agreement and must take a clear stance in defense of our interests," he pointed out.
The former Venezuelan ambassador to Guyana also said that it was necessary to know the terms of the agreement that the Guyanese government is willing to approve. We must know whether Guyana is going to get an important amount of money in exchange for protecting the forest, since there are international funds related to this type of operations, or whether it is an agreement to set up a sustainable and ecological project.
Garavini said that the unilateral cession of territory by the government of Guyana is due to Chávez previous statements. The Venezuelan president said some time ago that he is not concerned by new investments in the Essequibo. For Garivini, an opportunity has been lost to affect the status quo of Guyana, which is in possession of the territory.
"Once we lose this negotiating tool, Guyana's authorities will no longer be interested in negotiating." "On the contrary, President Chávez has said that the territorial claim is a result of the US pressure as part of the Cold War. Therefore, we wonder, "Why should Guyana negotiate after President Chávez has said that?"