Guyana and Venezuela face off for the disputed Essequibo region. (Image Credits: Google Images)

Guyana terms Venezuela’s ‘referendum’ as ‘annexation’

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The ongoing border dispute between Guyana and Venezuela has taken a dramatic new direction as Venezuela attempts to pursue a unilateral referendum in the disputed Essequibo region.

According to Guyana’s representative this “amounts to nothing less than the annexation of Guyana’s territory”.

From Guyana’s perspective, this referendum and the subsequent capture of Guyanese territory “would constitute the international crime of aggression.” This was relayed to media outlets via an official statement by the nation on Monday.

Venezuela has scheduled the referendum for the 3rd of December, 2023 and has approved the following questions:

  1. Do you agree to reject, by all means, in accordance with the law, the line fraudulently imposed by the Paris Arbitral Award of 1899, which seeks to dispossess us of our Guyana Essequibo?
  2. Do you support the Geneva Agreement of 1966 as the only valid legal instrument to reach a practical and satisfactory solution for Venezuela and Guyana, in relation to the dispute over the territory of the Guyana Essequibo?
  3. Do you agree with Venezuela’s historical position of not recognizing the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice to resolve the territorial dispute over the Essequibo Guiana?
  4. Do you agree to oppose, by all means, in accordance with the law, Guyana’s pretension to unilaterally dispose of a sea pending delimitation, in an illegal manner and in violation of international law?
  5. Do you agree with the creation of the state of Guyana Essequibo and the development of an accelerated plan for the integral attention of the current and future population of that territory, which includes, among others, the granting of Venezuelan citizenship and identity cards, in accordance with the Geneva Agreement and International Law, consequently incorporating said state in the map of the Venezuelan territory?

Guyana is particularly displeased by the last question on the list, which is a clear show of Venezuela’s attempts to annex the region, ignoring international laws and procedures.

For Guyana, this has become an immediate issue of sovereignty and territorial safety. In a statement on the matter, Guyana added that, “The people of Guyana remain resolute against any threats to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of their country. Neither the Government or the people of one country have the right in international law to seize, annex or take the territory of another country. International law emphatically prohibits this”

Guyana also pointed out that Venezuela’s modus operandi would result in a violent conflict between opposing factions in the region. The nation’s representatives stated that Venezuela was creating conditions “to incite violence and to threaten the peace and security of the State of Guyana and by extension the Caribbean region.”

The effects of this issue are far reaching as the United States is also involved in this dispute while the International Court of Justice is still analysing the case. In many ways, Venezuela’s actions go against the codes and morals that are usually followed in such disputes.

Hence, Guyana has every right to approach this as an act of aggression which would bring both sides to loggerheads.