Lula da Silva forces an urgent meeting between Guyana and Venezuela due to the escalation of war in Essequibo


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Last Sunday, Venezuelans approved in a unilateral referendum to annex the disputed area.

A man carries a map of Venezuela that includes the territory of Essequibo.
A man carries a map of Venezuela that includes the territory of Essequibo.AP

The military escalation forced by Caracas In its conflict with Guyana, it has achieved its first “truce” thanks to the mediation of the Brazilian president, Lula da Silva, and the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Joseph Gonsalves. This has been confirmed by the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry through a public statement, in which it shows “satisfaction, approval and commitment” for holding a “high-level meeting” with Georgetown officials, which will be announced in the coming days.

“Our aspiration is to maintain Latin America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace, without interference from external actors,” assured the government of Nicols Maduro after the conversations held with Lula and with “Comrade Ralph”, an old friend of the Bolivarian revolution and current president of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac).

In another phone call, Maduro discussed the conflict between the two countries with Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, just a few hours after the revolutionary move against him. The Chavista foreign minister criticized the pacifying words of Guterres, who is betting on the decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague to settle the differences between both countries.

Despite being a historical dispute that has lasted since colonial times, the celebration of a referendum patriotic and the subsequent “annexation” of Essequibo, which Caracas has converted into its 24th state (region), has set off alarms in the international community. Guyana put its army on high alert and asked for help from its military ally, the United States, which has initiated military flights over the area under claim.

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“I will never surrender to the empire”the revolutionary leader harangued hours before, who has taken advantage of the diplomatic tension to attack the opposition leader, María Corina Machado, and her closest political team.

“We have opted for direct dialogue with Guyana. They did not count on our cunning, the people came out in defense of Guayana Esequiba,” Maduro congratulated himself hours before the announcement. Guayana Esequiba is the name of the new region, as it appears on the new map of Venezuela imposed by Maduro. Its political and administrative capital is located in Tumeremo, in Venezuelan territory, 90 kilometers from the border with Guyana.

In this fight with Caracas, Guyana’s president, Irfaan Ali, has the support of most international actors, not just the United States. The 15 countries of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), traditional allies of Caracas; the Commonwealth and Great Britain; and the Organization of American States (OAS) have made this known in these days of tension.

Regarding China and Russia, crucial for Maduro to have secured power despite the social and economic debacle in Venezuela, there are more doubts. The Kremlin has invited the “people’s president” to travel to Moscow.

“Among other issues, it could seek to revive the interest of the Russian Rosneft in the Deltiana Platform, an area very close to the sea not delimited with Guyana and where Rosneft has already carried out some explorations,” predicted Mariano de Alba, senior advisor to the Crisis Group.

China has put a lot of money into Guyana and Venezuela, therefore it has geopolitical influence on both sides of the Essequiba border. Its role is decisive in this pyrotechnic fire. On the Guyanese side, China is even a partner of the US through the oil company ExxonMobil. “Pure chess, not suitable for micropoliticians,” said ironically Piero Trepiccione, a political scientist close to the Jesuit think-tank.

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