donald_ramotar_and_nicolas_maduro.jpgGEORGETOWN – Resolution of a long-standing border dispute between Guyana and Venezuela that dates back to colonialism could be developing new impetus following an official visit here by President Nicolas Maduro.

Press reports following the visit said Maduro and Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar agreed to ask United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to reappoint Professor Norman Girvan as the world body’s point person in efforts to settle the dispute.

“We think that Professor Girvan has been doing a good job and we agreed that we would make that request to the United Nations to have this process continued,” Ramotar said at a press conference at the conclusion of the visit.

Maduro is quoted as saying that Venezuela is committed to diplomatic and legal measures to settle the dispute which centers on Guyana’s western region known as Essequibo, comprising two-thirds of the country’s 83,000 square miles.

Venezuela has claimed the mineral-rich territory since the early 19th century, insisting that the border should be the Essequibo river, not the boundary set by colonial powers in an 1899 arbitration proceeding that gave Britain, Guyana’s former colonial ruler, rights to Essequibo.

That opposition was renewed when Guyana became independent in 1966. The territory has appeared on maps of Venezuela in red-and-white lines denoting a “reclamation zone.”

As a possible indication of a new era in the relationship between the two South American nations, Maduro and Ramotar signed an agreement to establish a direct air link between the two countries, using the airline CONVIASA. Venezuela offered Guyana help with training of airline technicians and flight operations inspectors.

Maduro also announced that his country will create “a congress for social movement” between the two countries focusing on education, health and religion.

*Pictured above is Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar, left, and Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, right.