Guyana's border woes for Commonwealth meet
Stabroek News
March 2, 2002

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President Bharrat Jagdeo flew into Queensland yesterday (Thursday night local time) for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and he will have an opportunity to highlight the continuing frustration of Guyana's development plans by both Venezuela and Suriname.

Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon told a press conference yesterday at the CHOGM media centre in Coolum that Guyana's territorial controversy with neighbouring Venezuela and its border dispute with its eastern neighbour Suriname will feature in discussions by heads in the segment of the conference on country issues. The Guyana situation has traditionally been a topic at CHOGM conferences.

In recent years, both Venezuela and Suriname have stepped up efforts to block investments and to scare away prospective investors using border problems with Guyana as the pretext.

In 2000, Suriname evicted an oil rig from Guyana's waters while it was preparing to drill for oil. Despite high level talks between the two countries the oil rig hired by the Canadian company CGX is still to be given permission to return. President Jagdeo recently paid a visit to Suriname where it was agreed that the border commissions set up by the two countries will consider the best practices for possible joint exploration of the disputed area. Venezuela has also succeeded in dissuading several oil explorers from prospecting off the Guyana coast.

Following Venezuelan sabre rattling over the border controversy, the Commonwealth had set up a monitoring group comprising a number of countries including the UK, Canada and South Africa. This group was to assess the situation and decide on what action could be taken.

Besides Guyana, the simmering border row between Commonwealth member Belize and Guatemala will also be on the agenda.