The following statement was issued by former Prime Minister of Jamaica P.J. Patterson following Thursday's meeting in St. Vincent & The Grenadines aimed at settling simmering tensions between Guyana and Venezuela over Venezuela's renewed claims over the Essequibo region of Guyana.
Our entire Hemisphere breathes a welcome sign of relief on the outcome of the Summit convened in St. Vincent on December 14. It established several significant precedents which deserve due commendation and indicate a path for the future.
It was a Caribbean initiative which demonstrated the intrinsic value of collective regional action. CARICOM stepped forward in united efforts to face the challenge of preserving the territorial integrity of Guyana, a founding member state and headquarters of the Caribbean Community.
It demonstrated that in a world of unprecedented turbulence, diplomatic skills and negotiating expertise can still be deployed to avert military conflict.
It asserts that the Caribbean and Latin America, despite the colonial rivalry and exploitation by European powers, constitute one hemispheric family. That highlights the merits of our full engagement and present leadership of CELAC.
We recognize that the far reaching agreements do not constitute a final settlement, but provide mechanisms to bolster healthy, productive and peaceful relationships between neighbours. It constitutes a model for devising consultative approaches to address other long-standing border dispute in South and Central America.
No praise is too high for President Ali of Guyana and President Maduro of Venezuela for their preparedness and courage in accepting the terms of the Argyle Declaration. Prime Minister Gonsalves and current Chair of CELAC revealed his astute skills and considerable experience, with extensive support from Prime Minister Skerrit, Chairman of CARICOM and President Lula through his trusted Emissary, Celso Amorim who were the principal interlocutors.
Commendations are due to all the Caribbean Prime Ministers, who were in attendance, to Representatives of the UN Secretary General, CARICOM, and the CELAC Troika, to endorse the Declaration and pledge to facilitate its timely implementation. Let us all as citizens of the Caribbean Sea applaud and encourage this bold step to fashion a Caribbean where peace and harmony prevail.
P.J. Patterson served as Jamaica's sixth and longest serving Prime Minister [14 years] before retiring in early 2006. He currently serves as Statesman in Residence at The P.J. Patterson Institute for Africa-Caribbean Advocacy, based at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies