US seeks to 'militarize' Venezuela-Guyana disputed territory
The Venezuelan Foreign Minister says that the parliament recently passed a referendum protecting the sovereign territory from US encroachment, adding that the US is again trying to interfere in the 200-year-old dispute of Essequibo.
At the United Nations General Assembly, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Yvan Gil said on Sunday that the US intends to "militarize" the disputed territory between Venezuela and Guyana, called Essequibo, by aiming to set up shop in this oil-rich region.
"We condemn the intention of the US government to militarize the situation [in Essequibo]. The Southern Command is trying to create a military base in the disputed territory in order to create the spearhead of its aggression against Venezuela and seize our energy resources," Gil said.
He further noted that the Venezuelan parliament recently passed a referendum protecting the sovereign territory from US encroachment, adding that the US is again trying to interfere in the 200-year-old dispute of Essequibo and appropriate Venezuelan oil through the American oil and gas company ExxonMobil.
'Esequiba is ours'
Venezuela and former British colony Guyana, which is now a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, have had a long dispute over the oil-rich Essequibo region.
In April this year, Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said Venezuela's armed forces maintain the country's territorial integrity and will continue to defend Caracas' claims to the Guayana Esequiba territory, which has been challenged by neighboring Guyana for over 100 years.
He tweeted that "the armed forces reaffirm their commitment to guarantee the territorial integrity of Venezuela. We have historical and legal reasons and all the will of the state of Venezuela to keep defending our legitimate claim over Guayana Esequiba. Esequiba is ours!"
Back in 1966, both nations ratified the Geneva Agreement for a peaceful solution, but in 2018, Guyana filed a lawsuit with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) requesting legal recognition of the 1899 decision of the Paris Court of Arbitration which assigned the territory to Guyana.
The Geneva Agreement of 1966, registered at the United Nations, is responsible for regulating and solving border disputes between Venezuela and British Guiana, but none of the preliminary protocols has been ratified by Venezuela.
Venezuela offered Guyana in 1983 an opportunity to engage in direct negotiations, but Guyana has voiced its preference in seeking a solution through the UNGA, the Security Council, or the ICJ.