Today is ‘D’ day for Venezuelans as they vote in a referendum on Essequibo land dispute

Home*Cover Story*International

Today is ‘D’ day for Venezuelans as they vote in a referendum on Essequibo land dispute

Today is ‘D’ day for Venezuelans as they vote in a referendum on whether their country should claim the Essequibo region in Guyana as their own territory. The public referendum scheduled by Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro, regarding the annexation of the Essequibo region and the granting of citizenship to its residents, which many analysts claim is a political power move by the Venezuelan leader who in some poles is flagging at between 20 to 30 percent popularity. General elections are due in 2024 in Venezuela.

In an area known to be rich in gold and other minerals in addition to oil, a Venezuelan base on the Barima River near the Mabaruma border with Guyana has a Venezuelan flag towering over the area, is being occupied by approximately 35 soldiers, with a small military fast boat on the river and a sandbag area in case soldiers needed to take cover. Soldiers carried out duties, including watching out for boats that were navigating the river course close to the boundary line separated by the river.

On Friday, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Venezuela not to take any action to challenge, disrupt or interfere with Guyana’s long-standing control and administration of the Essequibo region which makes up two-thirds of Guyana.

The Venezuelan Government in a statement released on Friday declared that “Venezuela’s Sun rises on the Essequibo.” The Madura regime said it had taken note of the pronouncement issued by the International Court of Justice, the Venezuelan Government said it “does not recognise the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice to settle the territorial controversy over the Guyana Essequibo, especially in view of the existence of the Geneva Agreement of 1966”.

The statement also said: “Nothing in international law allowed the Court to interfere in Venezuela’s internal affairs, nor to pretend to prohibit or modify a sovereign act organised within the framework of its participatory political system and based on its Constitution,”

Madura’s government continued: “Guyana had violated the Geneva Agreement and international legality by unilaterally granting concessions in the land territory and the waters pending delimitation, as well as facilitated its territory for the military deployment in our region of the main warmongering power in the planet.”

Guyana’s security forces are particularly vigilant and alert.