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Venezuela asks the International Court of Justice for the return of negotiations with Guyana over Essequibo.

Venezuelan government reinforced the objective of ‘ protecting sovereignty’ over Essequibo.

Venezuela asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) this Tuesday (11) for Guyana to return to negotiate the territory of Essequibo. The Venezuelan government’s theory is that the discussion should be based on the 1966 Geneva Concord . According to the country’s representative at the UN, Samuel Moncada, the discussion needs to have an “effective, practical, bearable and satisfactory” outcome for both parties .

Guyana and Venezuela are currently experiencing diplomatic tension over the disputed territory of Essequibo. In December 2023, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro called a referendum for the population to give their opinion on the reincorporation of Essequibo – which was Venezuelan until the 19th century. The majority voted yes.

In prayer in front of the ICJ, in The Hague, Netherlands, Moncada stated that Caracas has the objective of “ protecting sovereignty” over Essequibo and that it will continue “exercising the protection of historical truth in all spaces”. Reading the document ends with the motto adopted by Venezuela for this discussion: “the sun of Venezuela rises in Essequibo”. 

Despite the request, the Venezuelan representation at the ICJ reinforced that it will not recognize any decision issued by the entity that is different from the agreement signed in Geneva. The text signed between Guyana and the United Kingdom in 1966 defined that the dispute over the territory would be based on dialogue in a “manner satisfactory to all parties”. 

In the statement this Tuesday (12), Venezuela recalled the referendum and said that “the Venezuelan people gave an evident power of attorney to protect the rights that, since its birth , correspond to Venezuela over Guiana Esequiba”.

This is the second document presented to the ICJ in 2024. In April, the vice president of Venezuela, Delcy Rodríguez, presented a text with the country’s protection over the territory of Essequibo. The text says that the Venezuelan government learned in March 2018 that Guyana had unilaterally requested the validity of the 1899 report from the Galanteio Internacional de Justiça. Caracas called the incident “one of the most serious events in the dispute over Essequibo”.

Tension in the region has increased since the referendum. Other international actors entered the dispute, with threats from the USA and the sending of an aircraft carrier from the United Kingdom to the coast of Guyana.

In May, a US military official also visited Guyana. The US embassy in the country stated that the director of Strategy, Policy and Plans at US Southern Command, Julie Nethercot, was in Guyana to oversee “strategic planning, policy development and coordination of security cooperation for America Latin and the Caribbean”.

Days later, the United States embassy in Guyana announced military exercises in the South American country. The US representation in Guyana stated that two US military planes flew over Georgetown and the region. The Venezuelan government responded in publications on the social network, in which ministers called the measure a “ harbinger of regional silence ”.

Understand the dispute

With 160 thousand km², the Essequibo territory has been the subject of dispute since the 19th century, but the controversy took on new contours after 2015, when the American company Exxon Mobil found huge marine oil reserves off the coast of the enclave.

Guyana, therefore , handed over concessions so that the company could explore reserves that are estimated at more than 11 billion barrels of oil and made Guyana’s GDP the fastest growing in the world, according to projections by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The decision displeased Caracas, which claims that Georgetown could not have unilaterally issued concessions in an undelimited territory. The government of President Nicolás Maduro even accused his Guyanese counterpart of following the interests of Exxon Mobil and inciting a conflict in the region. Guyana accuses its neighbor of “expansionist intentions” and since September has been allowing US military exercises on the border.

In 2023, Venezuela held a referendum to hear the population’s opinion on the incorporation of Essequibo. According to the National Electoral Court , around 10.5 million voters participated in the referendum and 95.93% agreed to incorporate Guyana into the plan and grant citizenship to the more than 120 thousand Guyanese who live in the region.

The presidents of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, and Guyana, Irfaan Ali, met in December to discuss the dispute over the territory. Through social media, the Venezuelan Presidency celebrated the meeting and said that the representatives expressed “willingness to continue the dialogue to resolve the controversy in relation to the territory of Essequibo”.

The Guyanese president stated that he expressed to Maduro “Guyana’s clear position that we are a peaceful country and people, we have no other ambitions than seeking peaceful simultaneity with Venezuela.” However, Ali said he argued “that the controversy should be resolved in the International Court of Justice [ICJ]”, a context that is rejected by Caracas.

Law on Essequibo

The president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, even published a law on Essequibo. The “Organic Law for the Protection of Guyana Essequiba” intends to formalize the decision taken in a referendum by the population last year  to treat the territory of Essequibo, in dispute with Guyana, once a Venezuelan state.

The law sanctioned by the government had already been presented by the president himself in December 2023, shortly after the referendum. The law was first approved in Parliament on December 6th and secondly on March 21st.

The text determines a transitional period for incorporation, until elections are held to choose a governor for the new state that would be created. Until then, the territory would be legislated by the Venezuelan National Chamber . The law also determines that Venezuela will choose a government boss who will work provisionally in Tumeremo, in the state of Bolívar (south), close to the border with the disputed dimension .

Another issue indicated by the law is that maps that contain the territory of Venezuela must show the state of Essequibo.

Source: brazilianfacto

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