UN Security Council closes meeting on Venezuela-Guyana crisis without comment


(AFP).-The The UN Security Council debated this Friday on an “urgent” basis the controversy between Venezuela and Guyana for him Essequibo, a territory rich in oil that has been disputed for more than a century and? worries the international community.

The meeting – at the request of Guyana – was held behind closed doors and ended without statements or some communication. Georgetown alleged that the latest measures adopted by Caracas on the Essequibo “threaten international peace and security“, which are the responsibility of this instance of the United Nations.

The delegations left the room with roses in their hands, offered by Ecuador, which presides over the Council in December.

Both countries have accused each other of engaging in “provocations” amid the tension, which rose after Venezuela will hold a consultative referendum on December 3 in which more than 95% of the voters who participated approved creating a Venezuelan province in Essequibo -a territory that represents two thirds of Guyana- and give Venezuelan nationality to the 125,000 inhabitants of the disputed area.

The controversy was already worsening since 2015, when The American giant ExxonMobil discovered vast oil reserves in that area. After the consultation, the Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro announced plans to grant licenses and extract crude oil in disputed waters.

Guyana and ExxonMobil will have to sit down with us face to face sooner rather than later,” Maduro launched. this Friday during an event in front of the Miraflores presidential palace, where he showed a map of Venezuela that included Essequibo as an official territory and not as an area under claim, as it was normally represented.

Region in suspense

Venezuela maintains that Essequibo is part of its territory, as in 1777, when it was a colony of Spain. It appeals to the Geneva agreement, signed in 1966, before Guyana’s independence from the United Kingdom, which laid the foundations for a negotiated solution and annulled an 1899 award.

Guyana defends this award and asks that it be ratified by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), whose jurisdiction is unknown to Caracas.

“Guyana internationalized the conflict the moment it began to incorporate and bring foreign capital through the presence of transnational oil companies,” Josmar Fernández, a specialist in conflict resolution and delimitation of marine areas, told AFP.

The United States announced military exercises on Wednesday in Guyana, an “unfortunate provocation,” according to Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino.

Venezuela had already accused the Guyanese president, Irfaan Ali, whom it calls a “slave” of Exxon, of giving the “green light” for the United States to establish bases in its territory.

Russia, a key ally for Maduro, for its part urged a “spirit of good neighborliness” to resolve the conflict peacefully, along the lines of the Mercosur summit held in Rio de Janeiro.

“What we do not want is a war in South America, we do not need a conflict,” said Brazilian President Lula da Silva, who nevertheless reinforced his military presence on his borders with Guyana and Venezuela.

He also proposed mediation by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) in the dispute.

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) met by video conference and called for a “reduction of conflict and appropriate dialogue,” as well as “avoiding the use or threat of force.”

In a first approach between both governments, the Foreign Ministers of Venezuela, Yván Gil, and Guyana, Hugh Todd, agreed on Wednesday to keep “communication channels” open.

“Trial balloon”

Analysts point out that the referendum and the increase in nationalist rhetoric is an attempt to distract attention from the call for free elections in Venezuela in 2024.

“It was like a kind of test balloon ahead of the presidential elections” to measure the “mobilization capacity and try to refine its strategy for 2024,” said Mariano de Alba, an advisor to the International Crisis Group.

Chavismo has accused several opposition leaders of treason for speaking out against the referendum. Prosecutors announced the arrest of an American and an opponent for allegedly “conspiring” with ExxonMobil in the dispute.

Another 14 arrest warrants were issued against other leaders, most of them outside the country.

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