In a new escalation of the conflict with Guyana, the President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, on Friday (8) signed a series of decrees to incorporate Essequibo and transform Guyana’s territory into a Venezuelan state.
For the first time, Maduro gave a horizon for the plans to be implemented: 2030, “to fulfill the mandate of the people who voted yes.” This was in reference to the referendum held last Sunday, with the participation of half of Venezuelan voters, in which the annexation of Essequibo was approved.
Essequibo, an area larger than England and the state of Ceara, is currently under Guyana’s control, but Venezuela claims the area as its own.
- Creation of the Guyanese state of Essequipa (also called Essequibo in Venezuela);
- Establish a committee “to discuss what is considered a short- to medium-term strategy through 2030, or beyond, to achieve the mandate of the people who voted yes on December 3”;
- Establishment of the High Commission for the Defense of Guyana Equipa, a body composed of the Defense Council, the Federal Government Council, the National Security Council, and the political, religious and academic sectors;
- Formalizing the new official map that includes the Essequibo region;
- Creating a subsidiary of the state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) for Essequibo and granting licenses for gas, oil and mining exploration;
- Appointment of Attorney Rodriguez Cabello as an authority for Guyanese Equipa, also temporarily during the legislative debate, and the administrative headquarters of this authority will be in the city of Tomeremo, in the territory of Venezuela;
- Establishment of the Guyana-Esquipa Comprehensive Defense Region, comprising three integrated defense regions and 28 development sectors;
- Social Assistance Plan for Guyana’s Esequipa Residents, Conducting Population Census and Issuing Identity Cards to Residents.
- Publish and distribute the new map of Venezuela in schools, high schools and universities in the country.
Venezuela x Guyana: An understanding of 5 points in favor of Essequibo
The decrees were signed during a speech he delivered in front of thousands of people in the Venezuelan capital. in it, Maduro spoke about the new official map of the country, which includes the city of Essequibo.
Guyana has not yet commented.
The territory of Essequibo has been disputed between Venezuela and Guyana for more than a century. Since the end of the nineteenth century, it has been under Guyanese control. The region represents 70% of today’s territory of Guyana, and 125,000 people live there.
In Venezuela, the region is called Guiana Esquipa. It is a place full of dense forests, and in 2015 oil was discovered in the area. It is estimated that Guyana’s reserves amount to 11 billion barrels, the most significant portion of which is located offshore, i.e. in the sea near Essequibo. Because of oil, Guyana is the fastest growing country in South America in recent years.
Guyana claims to own the territory because there is a report from 1899, issued in Paris, in which the current boundaries were determined. At that time, Guyana was a territory of the United Kingdom.
Both Guyana and Venezuela claim their rights to the territory based on international documents.
Venezuela claims that the territory belongs to it because it came in an agreement signed in 1966 with the United Kingdom itself, before the independence of Guyana, in which the arbitration ruling was canceled and the basis for a negotiated solution was laid.
Guyana requested assistance from the United Nations and the International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice ruled on December 1 that Venezuela could not attempt to annex Essequibo and that this applied to the referendum.
Guyana had asked the court to take emergency measures to stop voting in Venezuela.
In April, the International Court of Justice stated that it had the legitimacy to make decisions on the dispute. This body is the highest court in the United Nations for resolving disputes between countries, but it is unable to implement its decisions.
A final decision on who owns Esquipa may still be years away.
The Venezuelan government said that the decision constitutes interference in internal affairs and violates the constitution. Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said that “nothing will prevent the holding of the referendum scheduled for December 3.” She also said that despite the court appearance, this does not mean that Venezuela recognizes the ICJ’s jurisdiction over the dispute.
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