Statement by His Excellency Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana at the VIII Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), St Vincent and the Grenadines

March 1, 2024

Dr the Honourable Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Pro Tempore Chair of CELAC

Excellencies Heads of State and Government


Extra regional Partners

Special guests

National Coordinators

Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is indeed an honour for me to join you in the beautiful island of St Vincent and the Grenadines. I wish at the outset as a member of the CARICOM family to take this opportunity to acknowledge and congratulate the Government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines for its leadership role and commendable stewardship of the Presidency of the Pro Tempore Secretariat over the last year. 

St Vincent and the Grenadines has done our region proud in guiding the work of CELAC over the past year, in particular with our engagement with the EU in July 2023 after a hiatus of several years. Guyana was pleased to host the Meeting of the CELAC Ministers of Agriculture held in Georgetown in June 2023.


I believe that we must focus our attention on certain key areas if we are to find viable solutions to the common challenges faced by our region. 

Firstly, our commitment to the peace and stability of this region must remain paramount. Latin America and the Caribbean must remain a Zone of Peace. The never-ending war in Ukraine and the unceasing bombing of Gaza are senseless acts of aggression and inhumanity which have consumed the efforts of the international community to find ways in which the citizens of Ukraine and Palestine can be relieved of their suffering. But so far – to no avail. We must never allow the peoples of this region to be subjected to such actions. The genocide in Palestine must come to an end and hostages held must be returned.

It is in this vein that Guyana accepted the offer of my Colleague Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and my other CARICOM Colleagues, Brazil and the UN as an observer, to facilitate a dialogue with His Excellency President Maduro last December to address the tensions that had arisen between our two States. I assured everyone at that time, and now, that I am prepared to speak with President Maduro on any aspect that may contribute to enhancing the relationship between our two countries. The aspect relating to Venezuela’s claim to the Essequibo is before the International Court of Justice and the Joint Declaration of Argyle on Dialogue and Peace acknowledges that Guyana is committed to the process and procedures of the International Court of Justice for the resolution of the border controversy. We are prepared to accept the judgement of the Court on this matter. I can assure you that Guyana remains steadfast in its commitment to the international judicial process, as well as, to maintaining our region as a “Zone of Peace”. We want peace. We want prosperity for our neighbours and all in this region. We want to be our brother’s keeper with our neighbour.

Instead of drawing conclusions, States within the region must ascertain the facts. Statements that are not based on facts can only add to destablisation. As we heard this morning from our friends in Bolivia, the air surveillance and sea exercises mentioned by Bolivia were part of bilateral and regional security cooperation and had nothing to do with the Guyana and Venezuela controversy.

It is also important to note that no mention was made about the incursions into Guyana’s territorial space.

My commitment to this august body is that Guyana and everything we do is built on peace and our fundamental values are based on peace. We are a peaceful people.

Fairness is standing on a platform of principle, honesty and values, nothing else.

We are blessed to have President Lula Da Silva back with us. We look to your principled and honest leadership to shape this region on a path to progress and prosperity.

I assure all leaders here that Guyana’s priority is peace and you can have the confidence that our territory will never ever be used as a a platform of war or for war.

Secondly, CELAC can play a pivotal role in seeking to address issues that impact the sustainable development of the region, such as climate change, energy security, and food and nutrition security.

Climate change and extreme weather conditions as we are aware have begun to put the world’s food production and global food security at risk. The prognosis has been made worse by the effects of the pandemic. Guyana as lead in Caricom on this initiative continues to advocate for food and nutrition security in the region. My Government welcomes collaborative efforts and partnerships in the retooling effort to build the necessary capacity to meet the rising need for expertise in the advancement of this sector.

Guyana like many other countries represented here today is cognizant of the disproportionate exposure to the harmful effects of climate change on many of our local industries. Our low-lying coastal plain is subject to flooding from both the rising sea and the increased intensity of rainfall.  The Government has embarked on the implementation of a low carbon development strategy which focuses on forest climate and other ecosystem services, stimulation of future growth through clean energy and sustainable economic activities, protection against climate change and alignment of the country’s economic and social policies with global climate goals. Guyana reiterates its call for the fulfillment of the financial commitments needed to address and support climate mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage, especially in vulnerable countries.

On climate finances, we must be collectively proud of the work our sister, Prime Minister Mottley and I applaud her.

This leads me to the third key objective – the preservation of our forests and the important role of forests in climate mitigation and adaptation, including through Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. I believe that CELAC must galvanise its advocacy for the sustainable management of forests, and the conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+) processes, and other policy approaches as decided by the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. I am therefore most appreciative of the invitation extended by His Excellency President Lula Da Silva for Guyana to put present to the G20 in July of this year our model for the preservation of the forest – a model that Guyana would also be happy to present to the Member States of CELAC at the earliest possible opportunity.


We have had the advantage of developing strategies, partnerships with third countries and external regional groupings. With the necessary political will, there is scope for revolutionizing the way we interact with these States and regional groupings to ensure that our mutual interests can be pursued, and we are able to harness the potential of our respective resources – both human and economic capital – channelling them into effective projects and programmes that focus on our collective development.

I want to applaud again, President Lula’s vision on the infrastructural integration of our region.

The Government of Guyana remains committed to the diversification of our economic and investors portfolio, placing emphasis on the traditional sectors while developing new and emerging ones. We also would like to encourage more companies to explore investment opportunities in areas such as agri-tech, eco and destination tourism, the construction industry, pharmaceuticals and renewable energy. We are creating an enabling environment, conducive to the generation of trade and investment opportunities.

The framework for advancing cooperation within this grouping is highly valued by Guyana as it provides avenues for enhanced development and convergence on issues in areas of our collective interest.


In closing, let me reiterate my appreciation to my Colleague, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves for his outstanding hosting of this Summit and for his astute leadership. I wish to assure Her Excellency Iris Xiomara Castro Sarmiento, President of the Republic of Honduras of my full support as she assumes the role of the Pro Tempore Presidency. Guyana stands firmly committed to the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and I look forward to working with you all in preserving the fabric of this integration mechanism.

The collective commitment of all of us to international law, the safety and security of our people and region, safeguarding democracy and the upliftment of the dignity of all our people is paramount.

In closing, I repeat our call for the dismantling of the unacceptable embargo against our sister Caribbean State of Cuba. The economic and political aggression must come to an end and the designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism must also come to an end.

I thank you and God Bless You All.

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