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Venezuela defies ICJ ruling with referendum on annexing Essequibo from Guyana

Venezuelans marching in support of the Essequibo referendum in Caracas on December 1, 2023. Photo: Pedro Rances Mattey
President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela addresses supporters in Caracas on Monday morning, following the referendum. Photo: Matias Delacroix / AP
President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela addresses supporters in Caracas on Monday morning, following the referendum. Photo: Matias Delacroix / AP
Guyanese have been showing their patriotism, following the threat by Venezuela to annex Essequibo. Photo: Facebook
Guyanese have been showing their patriotism, following the threat by Venezuela to annex Essequibo. Photo: Facebook
A map of Guyana. The portion shaded in orange is the area claimed by Venezuela. Image: Wikimedia Commons
A map of Guyana. The portion shaded in orange is the area claimed by Venezuela. Image: Wikimedia Commons
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, SA- Venezuelan electoral authorities on Sunday, December 3, 2023, claimed that 95 percent of voters in a nonbinding referendum approved of the nation's territorial claim on a huge chunk of neighboring oil-rich Guyana.

On Friday, December 1, 2023, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Venezuela to "refrain from taking any action which would modify that situation that currently prevails," referring to the dispute over Essequibo, land long held by Guyana.

Venezuela has laid claim to the Essequibo region since 1811, when it gained independence from Spain. It has never accepted the border between Venezuela and what was then British Guiana, established by international arbitrators in 1899.

VZ defies ICJ

Ignoring the ICJ's warning, on Sunday Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro went ahead with a planned referendum that sought the public's opinion on the annexation of Guyana's Essequibo region.

According to AFP, about 10.5 million votes were cast by Venezuela's 20.7 million eligible voters, said the president of the National Electoral Council, Elvis Amoroso.

But the tally stirred confusion, since an opposition politician suggested that each voter cast a total of five votes -- one for each question on the referendum related to Venezuela's claim.

Guyana unites

In Guyana, thousands of people, some of them wearing T-shirts reading "Essequibo belongs to Guyana," formed human chains in solidarity with their government, and their president offered assurances that the country's borders were secure.

But tensions have been rising since Guyana took bids in September for several offshore oil exploration blocks, and after a major new find was announced in October.

Guyana's petroleum reserves are similar to those of Kuwait, with the highest reserves per capita in the world.

Political ploy

The Miami Herald reported that ‘Venezuela watchers’ have said Maduro’s threat is likely more of a political ploy meant to fan the flames of nationalism and boost his faltering popularity, Venezuela watchers told the Miami Herald.

“Maduro would be crazy” to actually try and seize the territory, given the “number of negatives of annexation,” one expert said. Invading Guyana would risk further isolating money-depleted Venezuela from the global economy, risking more sanctions on Caracas, and creating “more international problems than the ones [Maduro] already has,” another think tank researcher told the Herald.

Referendum cannot settle dispute- US

Meanwhile, the United States (US) has made it clear that the existing border controversy between the two South American nations cannot be settled through a referendum.

At a press briefing on Monday, December 4, 2023, Spokesperson for the US Department of State, Matthew A. Miller reiterated his country’s support of a peaceful resolution of the controversy between the two states.

"We would urge Venezuela and Guyana to continue to seek a peaceful resolution of their dispute.

“This is not something that will be settled by a referendum.”

Guyana’s Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, on Monday, told the News Room that Guyana is prepared for the worst, building defence cooperation with its allies, even though it does not believe that Venezuela’s President will order an invasion of Guyana.

VI home to many Guyanese

The [British] Virgin Islands is home to a large population of Guyanese.

A 16-member from the [British] Virgin Islands visited Guyana in July to explore trade, investment and enhanced cooperation with Guyana. The VI team was led by the Hon Lorna G. Smith, OBE (AL) Deputy Premier and Minister for Financial Services, Labour and Trade.

The Virgin Islands government has since announced it is considering lifting the visa requirement for Guyanese visiting the VI.

22 Responses to “Venezuela defies ICJ ruling with referendum on annexing Essequibo from Guyana”

  • asura (05/12/2023, 11:35) Like (18) Dislike (0) Reply
    seems like another war in our back yard its about the oil!
    • @asura (05/12/2023, 13:27) Like (10) Dislike (1) Reply
      Sometimes I lace into some of your comments when I disagree with you. This time I am 100% in agreement with you. It is all about the OIL. Yes, gear up for a war that is escalating in our back yard.
  • Both are the same.. (05/12/2023, 12:00) Like (18) Dislike (9) Reply
    Both Leaders are the same. Using the oil money, which is a lot of money to enrich themselves and big oil companies. While their people remain poor and suffering.. So let them kill each other. The sad Part is that the under paid military people will risk and lose their lives for both of these vampire leaders...Sad.!
    • @both (05/12/2023, 22:07) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
      How you forget so quickly that the previous government used 18m USD for a wedding. Imagine yourself right now with just 1m USD. Lol. Why the previous government didn't distributed the oil money lol
  • In Ting (05/12/2023, 12:11) Like (14) Dislike (9) Reply
    Tola want to be in ting. Misinformed Lorna in yuh Korna knows what about international border disputes?? If you want a Venezuela problem on your little hands, go right ahead sleeping in bed with Guyana. Soon, every Guyanese will migrate to bvi on no visa requirement when the war breaks out.
    • To In Ting (05/12/2023, 14:21) Like (11) Dislike (6) Reply
      Umm excuse me, I didn't shower in 5 days. I bathe using a bowl throwing wata on myself. My car been to the garage 4 times in 1 month. I have a fridge, 2 fans and a small tv in my one bedroom apartment and the light bill come up to month grocery. I eating one meal a day like when Irma had just hit us. I can go on. So tell me In Ting, who the heck would want to come to this country that is rapidly turning into a 3rd world county. Take a seat please
      • In Ting (05/12/2023, 15:20) Like (5) Dislike (4) Reply
        @ To In Ting, that sounds like a very difficult situation to be in. I hope your situation changes because if not, it can become a mental concern. Having said that, what exactly is the point you are making? To answer your question on "who the heck would want to come to this country ", umm... Even when you have not showered for 5 days, it looks like you prefer to be here than there. Maybe I missed something in between the lines. I am not against anybody coming here. I am against Larna thinking she is the oil explorer and not fully grasping what the hell she talking about with this age old controversy between Guyana and Venezuela. I would ask you to take a seat but it sounds like you need to go look work. Your situation will change in the name of the Lord.
        • @ in Ting (05/12/2023, 20:50) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
          Reading is one thing. Comprehending is another. You missing a lot. When common sense was sharing you were in the back of the line and got just a pinch. You need to take a seat. Who wants to come here huh? Streeuuuups
    • In Ting (05/12/2023, 18:42) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
      So true, leave that alone or get ready for the flood gates to open for the migration of Guyanese to flood the BVI on no visa requirements. See how America got caught up with the migrant thing. Now they are offering them plane tickets to go back to their Country. Lots is taking up the offer because they claim they would prefer to go back to their Countries than have to sleep on the streets in the cold. New York City is not paved in gold like a lot of people think. New York City will break you or make you.
    • c (05/12/2023, 20:09) Like (5) Dislike (8) Reply
      Too many Guyanese here already.
      • @c (06/12/2023, 07:00) Like (1) Dislike (6) Reply
        The Guyanese is infesting the BVI shores just like the Santos and Jamacians. The funny part is they are always saying their Country is beautiful, so stay your in your beautiful Country why are you here in my Country if yours is so beautiful. Marriage to the locals for green cards is what they are looking for.
      • HMMM (06/12/2023, 14:34) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
        Yet you and your family to run to America for green card....lolol
  • usa (05/12/2023, 12:55) Like (18) Dislike (2) Reply
    What war?. with America being the largest investors in Guyana oil discovery. Venezuela have to keep quiet. They are barking but can't bite. Their visionless president have failed his people and is now trying to incite them. You can only fool some people some of the time, but not all the time. Greed and power are man's greatest enemy, where ever it is found.
  • musa (05/12/2023, 13:33) Like (9) Dislike (2) Reply
    Not a blade a grass .592 belongs to guyanese only .
  • GateKeeper (05/12/2023, 14:27) Like (8) Dislike (1) Reply
    This potential conflict/war between Venezuela and Guyana is about oil, liquid gold, black gold, and greed. Oil is an important and valuable commodity. Countries that owns large oil reserves and which manages the reserves effectively has power, runs things and has a large influence on global economies. Oil has replaced gold as the dominant driver of world power. And the countries with oil, makes the rules. Guyana was a languishing, forgotten and neglected, Third World country and economy until it discovered oil. Now, every country, including the Virgin Islands [British], saved for its close neighbor Venezuela, is rolling out the carpet. For example, some countries like the UK, the former Colonizer and Commonwealth of Nations member ( Leader) are lifting the visa requirements for Guyanese to visit their countries.

    Moreover, the threat by o Venezuela to annex a large area of its close neighbor Guyana land area (Essequibo region) is about both oil and greed. Venezuela has one of the largest oil reserves in the world. Nevertheless, that is not enough; it wants more—-pure greed. Who is going to help Guyana defend its sovereignty? Is CARICOM, Commonwealth of Nations, UN, etc., coming to Guyana’s. Defense? Will multinational corporations of America , Europe, Asia, etc. ,push their government come to Guyana’s defense?
    • facts (05/12/2023, 15:50) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
      To GateKeeper, facts, facts!! Let’s see who comes to Guyana’s defense. I suspect that because oil is involved she will get some help. But we will see.
  • Major Worries (05/12/2023, 18:43) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
    The largest oil deposit in the world is located in this region prepare for a middle east type conflict over this resource. Russia and China vs US and NATO grab your popcorn and stay tuned.
  • russia (05/12/2023, 19:03) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    Y'all for got Putin flew all the way there when trump wanted to play around maduro, alrighty then
    • To Russia (05/12/2023, 20:56) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply

      Seems like they forgot. I shared a link to refresh their memories.
  • my two cents (05/12/2023, 19:54) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Well the USA will have a reason now to invade Venezuela

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