Venezuela and Guyana at Odds Over Territory

Photo: Encyclopedia Brittanica ©2010.

Photo: Encyclopedia Brittanica ©2010.

Caribbean 360 is reporting that Venezuela has begun to cut ties with Guyana over a dispute over maritime territory. Venezuela is recalling Reyna Margarita Arratia, its ambassador to Guyana, reviewing relations with the CARICOM nation, and scaling down embassy staff in Georgetown. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro sent a strong message to his neighboring country that Venezuela would not be “backing down from its claims of maritime territory.”

The author writes:

“Maduro issued a decree on May 25, claiming sovereignty over territorial waters in the Essequibo region of the Atlantic Ocean that encompasses an area equivalent to around two-thirds of Guyanese territory, including a large part of the Stabroek Block, where US oil giant ExxonMobil discovered oil recently. Guyana says Caracas agreed to relinquish the Essequibo following a ruling by an international tribunal in 1899, but later backtracked on that decision. Venezuela says the 1899 ruling was unfair and insists the territory is still in dispute. Caracas, which has the world’s largest oil reserves, claims the ‘operating zones’, which intrude upon Colombian and Guyanese waters, are necessary for national security. However, Guyana has insisted the move is illegal and also threatens the offshore territory of other Caribbean states, and has approached the United Nations to settle the border dispute once and for all.”

In a speech at the National Assembly of Caracus on Monday, President Maduro stated:

“We are victims of dispossession. I say this to our friends and also to our enemies: No one will ever get Venezuela to renounce her historical rights to the Essequibo.”

Read more at Caribbean 360.

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