Venezuela Vs Guyana: The Battle For El Essequibo’s Oil

In a pivotal development, intentionally timed between concurrent crises in Ukraine and Israel to avoid the international spotlight, Venezuela’s National Assembly (noted for its non-transparent anti-democratic character) has given the green light for a national referendum in early December to determine the status of the Essequibo territory. The only problem – Essequibo is not a part of Venezuela, nor has it been since the days of the Spanish Empire. This region, internationally acknowledged as part of the neighboring, oil-rich Guyana and constituting about two-thirds of that country’s expanse, holds substantial oil wealth.

Guyana asserts that the current borders established in 1899 by an international arbitration tribunal during its British colonial era should remain in force. Conversely, Venezuela contends that the Essequibo River naturally demarcates the border, dismissing the 1899 verdict as ‘null and void”. Subsequent diplomatic efforts to resolve the dispute have largely faltered, with a historical turning point being the 1903 Venezuela blockade, prompting U.S.-mediated peace talks among European countries, which again recognized the current borders and establishing the applicable legal precedent.

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