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Guyana summons U.S. Southern Command and escalates territorial dispute with Venezuela

2023-12-06T23:26:46.254Z

Highlights: Guyana summons U.S. Southern Command and escalates territorial dispute with Venezuela. The small Caribbean country thus responded to the challenge of Nicolás Maduro's regime for the Essequibo. "If Venezuela proceeds with this erratic, threatening and risky behavior, the region will have to respond," says Guyana's president. The whole issue has heated up since last Sunday, when a referendum in Venezuela validated Chavismo's claims to annex the Es sequibo. issue is currently in dispute at the International Court of Justice.


The small Caribbean country thus responded to the challenge of Nicolás Maduro's regime for the Essequibo.


The dispute between Venezuela and Guyana over the Essequibo entered another level on Wednesday. Guyanese President Irfaan Ali said his government is taking all necessary measures to protect itself from "a direct threat" from Venezuela and revealed that he has summoned regional allies and the U.S. Southern Command to protect the disputed territory, which makes up two-thirds of his country.

The Guyanese president's step forward came hours after his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolas Maduro, launched on Tuesday night an action plan on the Essequibo that includes the granting of licenses to explore and exploit oil, the creation of a Venezuelan province in the disputed area and military deployments in towns near the area. without announcing, for the moment, an armed incursion into the area.

In his response to Ali's announcement, Maduro criticized that Guyana "has irresponsibly given the green light to the presence of the U.S. Southern Command in the territory of Guyana Essequiba, over which Guyana maintains a de facto occupation." And he warned that Guyana, "under the mandate of the U.S. transnational Exxon Mobil, is opening the possibility of installing military bases to an imperial power."

As the fighting seemed to escalate hour by hour, in the mid-afternoon the Guyanese president told The Associated Press that "we take this threat very seriously, and we have initiated a series of precautionary measures to ensure the peace and security of the region." He mentioned that the Guyana Defence Forces are talking to their counterparts in other countries, but did not specify which ones. In a statement late Tuesday, Ali had said he had contacted the United States and its Southern Command, which oversees military operations in Central and South America and the Caribbean, as well as Brazil, Britain, France and the U.N. secretary-general.

An act of followers of Chavismo, days before the referendum for the Essequibo. Photo: EFE

"The Guyana Defense Force is on high alert and has contacted its military counterparts, including the U.S. Southern Command," Ali said. "

If Venezuela proceeds with this erratic, threatening and risky behavior, the region will have to respond," he told the AP. Ali also said he would raise the issue at the U.N. Security Council meeting.

In addition to the oil licenses and the order for Venezuela to include the Essequibo on its official maps, Maduro also announced Tuesday night the creation of a new Comprehensive Defense Operational Zone for the disputed strip, similar to the special military commandos that conduct operations in the different regions of the country.

Controversy over the referendum

The whole issue has heated up since last Sunday, when a referendum in Venezuela validated Chavismo's claims to annex the Essequibo, an area rich in oil and minerals, which is currently in dispute at the International Court of Justice.

The issue encourages nationalist aspirations across the Venezuelan political spectrum, even as the opposition maintains that it is an attempt by the regime to regain political oxygen in the face of a crumbling image among voters for the 2024 presidential elections that could be catastrophic for Chavismo.

On Wednesday, the foreign ministers of Venezuela, Yván Gil, and Guyana, Hugh Todd, communicated by phone amid growing tension and "agreed to keep the channels of communication open," according to the official text released in both capitals.

Maduro rejects the mediation of the International Court of Justice that will debate the matter on April 8, and adheres to the Geneva Agreement, signed by the parties to the conflict in 1966. But this pact cuts off some of Guyana's current territory in favor of Venezuela. "Guyana must know that it fixes this by hook or we (we) fix it," Maduro threatened, giving foreign oil companies three months to leave unmarked waters in the Essequibo.

Belarusreiterated that he rejects the use of force. "Now there are new facts that are more worrying," Brasilia's foreign adviser Celso Amorim told Reuters. China, Caracas' main creditor and Guyana's ally, also called for calm. "China has always respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries," Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.

Source: clarin

All news articles on 2023-12-06

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