Suriname's intrusion into Guyana's territory

By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
June 12, 2000

Two Saturdays ago, the Suriname Navy evicted a CGX Energy Inc oil rig from Guyana's waters claiming the operations were being conducted in Suriname's territory. Since then a diplomatic initiative for resolving the issue and having the rig return to its drilling position has been undertaken. We asked the man/woman-in-the-street for their reactions to Suriname evicting the oil rig from our waters. Their views follow:

Patrick Liverpool - private sector employee: 'Before Suriname moved to evict the oil rig the Surinamese government should have been in touch with Guyana to register what it felt was its concern. But moving in the way it did shows up Suriname's weakness in dealing with issues at the diplomatic level. It also brings up a bullyism nature. We need investments in this country and if the resources are in areas which our neighbours claim, I think it is time that we get a grip on our country and move forward with our development plans. Our immediate task though should be to get the oil rig back in place. I think it was a bit of jealously and envy because Suriname knows that oil is big business.'

Jameel Bacchus - private sector employee: 'Suriname had no right in the first instance to move into Guyana's waters to move the oil rig especially since that country knew that Guyana had granted the foreign company CGX a concession to carry out oil exploration there. I think they should have used the diplomatic channels instead of using aggression. The issue as it is at present is a non-partisan one and all Guyanese should hold one head on the issue. I also feel that because we are such a small nation and our borders are constantly threatened by Venezuela and Suriname and to a lesser extent Brazil that government should ensure that all our citizens be armed with the knowledge of our rights over our territories. We cannot have our neighbours violating our lands.'

Ebony Forte - secondary school student: 'I see the eviction as an invasion on Guyana which they had no right to do. I think we need to get the oil rig back into our territorial waters and settle the border dispute once and for all. We cannot have Suriname and Venezuela dictating to our government every time we want to move forward.'

Indra Singh - housewife: 'Suriname is wrong, that is to say the Surinamese government and the Surinamese army are wrong to set foot in Guyana and evict anyone from our territory without our government reaching any agreement with them to do so. It is eye-pass. If the area under dispute was not ours we would not have allowed anyone into it and if it was Suriname's why did not they develop it before. I think that they are aware that the area has oil and they want a share of what is there. If we bother with Venezuela, Essequibo will remain underdeveloped. All Guyana is ours and we must fight for it. It is time we stand up for what is ours.'

'Sweet Monics' - calypsonian: 'I think it is covetousness on the part of Suriname. They just envy us. They feel certain that oil is in the area and they probably feel that with an oil find we are going to be better off than them. They want to make the venture a joint operation. I don't agree with that. I think that as Suriname was wrong in the first place the Surinamese government should apologise and let us get on with our business as friendly neighbours. However, this gives me an opportunity to put my patriotism to the fore and I think I will have to [write] a calypso which will echo the words of `Not a Blade of Grass' and `Essequibo Belongs to We'.'

Abdool Sattaur: - 'We are trying to exploit and develop our resources in peace and harmony with our neighbours and we should be allowed to do so. We must not give up a piece of our land to our covetous neighbours. I think Suriname was capitalising on Venezuela. Every time Venezuela makes a claim to Guyana's territory Suriname does the same. I prefer to know that I die as a Guyanese in an intact Guyana. If Suriname cannot allow Guyana to develop its resources in peace then we should register our concerns to the international community. Suriname is wrong and will be the loser for what has just happened.'

Norma Liverpool - private sector employee: 'What has happened between Guyana and Suriname is the work of God. As far as I am concerned this had to happen to us because we are so corrupt. Right now God is in charge and we got to pray. We don't fight fire with fire.'

Roger Persaud - ex-soldier: 'I am against what Suriname has done and I feel we ought to now hold one head. Regardless of politics we should not allow either Suriname or Venezuela to invade our territory, whether it is air, land or water, without permission and we need to make this clear. We have some of the best jungle fighters and many other countries send their senior army officers to train in Guyana. If needs be I am willing to go back to the army and there are many others like myself who feel this way. It is now just a matter of providing resources for our army and government has got to get serious with this. Suriname has deliberately used force because they know of our conflicts among politicians and would want to capitalise on what they feel are our insecurities. I think they will learn, however, that we are united when it comes to our borders.'

Ronald Adamson - industrial electrician: 'The problems we are experiencing are because we have forgotten the true God. We need to look to Jesus. I am not saying that Suriname is right or Guyana is wrong but what I do know is that righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people. The leadership of the nation has to recognise this. The faster they come to grips with this reality we will see some positive results and the nation will move forward. The eviction is a spin-off from the corruption of the society. The solution to our current border problems can be found in God.'

Roxanne Layne - cashier: 'Our country as far as I am concerned has no government, the country is so corrupt that we cannot manage our own affairs and our neighbours are aware of this. With government offering me a piece of land less than an acre at $1.2 million and then giving Beal one acre at US$3, you can't see this is corruption? Government is only frustrating me more and more everyday. Not best we had no government?

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