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Title: A Win-Win on the Essequibo: CARICOM's Proactive Path to Regional Prosperity

The recent meeting between Guyana and Venezuela, facilitated by CARICOM, has blown a welcome breeze of relief across the region. It signifies a potential turning point in the long-standing Essequibo dispute, a simmering tension that poses a threat to boil up and destabilize the Caribbean. In this diplomatic masterpiece, CARICOM, inspired by the sagacious Uncle Ralphie the elderly maestro of a PM from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, played a crucial and influential role, forging hope of a less fragile peace and catalyzing a potential win-win solution for all parties involved.

Beyond Applause: Jamaica's Proactive Approach

Commending the initial talks is imperative, but Jamaica's role should transcend mere applause. Leveraging historical ties with both countries and strategic positioning within the Caribbean, Jamaica can actively champion solutions. I propose a four-pronged approach:

  1. Strengthening the Petrojam Partnership: Jamaica can capitalize on Venezuela's need for reliable refining partners. The restoration of ownership in the previously-expropriated-joint venture Petrojam refinery, through transparent negotiation, addresses past grievances and concerns and aligns with regional energy security and economic goals. This revitalized partnership could not only secure essential fossil oil and gas supplies but also mend relations with Venezuela and its scandalized people, restoring trust and dignity. (Let us entertain no illusions. It's a no-brainer. Jamaica's expropriation of the Petrojam refinery scandalized the entire Venezuelan population of all stripes. We precipitated an unnecessary grievance that we must assuage. Our Cabinet must quickly soothe that pain.)---No nos hagamos ilusiones. Es obvio. La expropiación de la refinería Petrojam por parte de Jamaica escandalizó a toda la población venezolana, sin importar afiliaciones. Provocamos un agravio innecesario que debemos mitigar. Nuestro Gabinete debe calmar rápidamente ese dolor.

  2. An expropriated Petrojam is a BEEEG elephant in the Caribbean room. It sticks in the collective craw of our Venezuelan neighbours who graciously gave us Bolivarian help in our times of need....then to be rewarded by what they see as perfidy to curry favour with the Trump Whitehouse.

  3. Investing in Essequibo's Potential: Despite its economic potential, the Essequibo region remains underdeveloped due in part to the territorial dispute. Jamaica can play a role in bridge-building by facilitating joint ventures in the Essequibo. Partnerships between PCJ, CARICOM nations, and Venezuelan-Guyanese-Surinamer entities can explore sustainable projects, such as eco-tourism, renewable energy, agriculture, biomass and green fertilizers, and feeds, fostering economic growth while respecting Guyana's sovereignty.

  4. Rekindling the PetroCaribe Flame: PetroCaribe, a lifeline for many Caribbean nations, can be revisited. Despite Venezuela's economic challenges, a mutually beneficial version of PetroCaribe could involve diversifying terms, encouraging renewable energy especially green hydrogen and related green investments, and ensuring sustainable debt management for participating countries.

  5. Walking the Diplomatic Tightrope: While respecting Guyana's commitment to ICJ arbitration, Jamaica, in clear solidarity with the rest of the Caribbean can collaborate with neutral facilitators to encourage open communication and confidence-building measures. Leveraging diplomacy ensures transparency and fairness throughout the arbitration process, paving the way for a lasting resolution.

Beyond Immediate Gains: A Vision for the Region

These initiatives embody a broader vision for the Caribbean as a zone of peace, cooperation, and shared prosperity. Proactive engagement in these initiatives allows Jamaica in concert with all of the Caribbean Community to:

  • Boost Regional Solidarity: Jamaica's active role will solidify its position as a respected and influential player within the Caribbean Community.

  • Solidify Economic Ties: Stronger economic partnerships with Guyana and Venezuela unlock new markets, attract investments, and create jobs for the people of the Caribbean, including all our CARICOM brothers, including those in the dreadful pressure cooker that Haiti has become. BTW, Essequibo could provide enough water to purge Jamaica, in regional eyes, of the apartheid business of our novel "skill" in repeatedly refouling 67+66+65+14... "darling" Haitian refugees delivered in the dead of night, by our security forces' unquestionable "nobility and valour". 

  • Promote Regional Stability: By fostering peaceful resolution and cooperation, Jamaica with CARICOM can contribute to a more secure and prosperous Caribbean environment.

The Road Ahead: Challenges and Responsibilities

Here's the thing: Implementing these initiatives presents challenges, requiring careful...but not protracted...negotiation, addressing past grievances, and ensuring transparency. However, the potential rewards are substantial. By embracing this proactive approach, Jamaica can emerge as a key player in shaping a brighter future for the entire region.

The time for cautious optimism is over. Jamaica must seize this opportunity, rise to the occasion, and become a one-faced catalyst for a win-win solution that delights Venezuela AND Guyana  in the Essequibo dispute. Let us move beyond mere applause and actively contribute to building a stronger, more united, and prosperous Caribbean Region for generations to come.

Dennis A. Minott, PhD.

Decemeber 15, 2023.

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