Venezuela signals intention to annex Essequibo region of Guyana; could put CARICOM in difficult position

The area in orange is part of Guyana but is claimed by Venezuela

The government of Venezuela is making moves to seize and occupy two-thirds of Guyana, known as the Essequibo Region, in a referendum which is scheduled for December 3,  2023. The referendum on the matter, seeking Venezuela’s “defense” of the region, was approved by the Venezuelan National Assembly and was reported by Reuters on September 23. 

On Monday this week, the National Electoral Council (CNE) of Venezuela unanimously approved five questions for the referendum, one of them asking the Venezuelan people whether they agree to make the Essequibo Region a state of Venezuela and to grant current and future residents Venezuelan citizenship and identification cards.

However, this is not going down well with the government of Guyana, which said such a move would be a violation of international law since the Essequibo Region belongs to Guyana.

“This amounts to nothing less than the annexation of Guyana’s territory, in blatant violation of the most fundamental rules of the UN Charter, the OAS Charter, and general international law. Such a seizure of Guyana’s territory would constitute the international crime of aggression,” the Guyana government said in a statement on Monday evening.

“The Government of Guyana categorically rejects any attempt to undermine the territorial integrity of the sovereign State of Guyana. The Government finds abhorrent that the Essequibo region which forms part of the territory of Guyana in accordance with the 1899 Arbitral Award that demarcated the boundaries of the States of Venezuela and then British Guiana, should be ‘created’ into a State within Venezuela.”

Venezuela has been laying claims to Guyana’s Essequibo region for decades saying that an international boundary treaty dating back to 1899 had robbed it of its rightful land.

The matter has a long and complicated history – a direct legacy of colonial powers that ruled over the two nations, Spain in Venezuela and the United Kingdom in Guyana. 

The dispute goes back all the way to 1814 when the British bought what is now Guyana (known as British Guiana in colonial times) from the Dutch. At that time there was no defined boundary with Venezuela until 1835 when the British Government commissioned Robert Schomburgk to survey the border region and draw a boundary. He drew what is called the Schomburgk Line which claimed some  30,000 square miles for Guyana.

In 1841 Venezuela disputed the British border, claiming territories established at the time of their independence from Spain. The South American country said its borders extended as far east as the Essequibo River, effectively claiming two-thirds of British Guiana’s territory.

The dispute was further complicated when gold was discovered in the region and the British, seeking to extend their reach, claimed an additional 33,000 square miles west of the Schomburgk Line. Venezuela protested and called on the United States for assistance saying under the Monroe Doctrine, there is justification for US intervention. The United States expressed concerns but did not offer a resolution.

On October 3, 1899, an Arbitral Award was given in favor of British Guiana following the Schomburgk Line. The Venezuelan government expressed its disapproval of the results and maintained its claim on Essequibo saying the award was null and void.

The matter has never been fully resolved. For example, in the 1960s Venezuela went to the United Nations in an attempt to prevent Britain from granting independence to Guyana. In 1966, the Geneva Agreement was signed which gave a mixed commission to arbitrate the dispute but the commission never produced a lasting solution. In 2018, the UN referred the matter to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) but the government of Venezuela refused to recognize the ICJ’s jurisdiction over the matter.

Although the December 3 referendum is non-binding, it will measure popular support among Venezuelans over the sparsely populated region. During his weekly broadcast, President Nicolas Maduro called on the Venezuelan people to vote massively in the referendum.

“This is a referendum where we all fit, regardless of whether we are Chavistas or anti-Chavistas,” he said on Monday evening. “This is about our love for our country and the outrage at the pretenses by empires, multinational corporations, and Guyana to take away what is ours.”

However, Guyana has the support of CARICOM (to which it is a member state) with the regional body releasing a statement on the planned referendum saying it “opens the door to the possible violation of this fundamental tenet of international law.”

“It is to be emphasized that the land and water in question — the Essequibo Region of Guyana — comprises more than two-thirds of the whole of Guyana itself,” the statement said. “CARICOM notes that the language of two questions approved to be posed in the Referendum seeks an affirmation and implementation of  Venezuela’s stance on the issue “by all means, according to/with the Law.”  It is open to reasonable persons to conclude that “by all means”, includes means of force or war.”

The statement said CARICOM hopes Venezuela isn’t raising the prospect of war in the matter since there has been a long-standing position that the region must remain a “zone of peace.”

CARICOM’s position was supported by the Organization of American States (OAS).

“We condemn any attempts that [constitute] a breach of peace and an attempt to encroach on a country’s sovereign borders,” OAS secretary general Luis Amalgro said on Wednesday. “This is an irrefutable violation of Guyana’s territorial rights and we support CARICOM’s statement.”

But observers think the matter might put CARICOM in a very difficult position.

Many CARICOM countries, including Dominica, have cozy relationships with Caracas. Additionally, Venezuela supplies some CARICOM countries with oil through the PetroCaribe oil program.

An article by the Counter Terrorism Group said CARICOM countries might push for a diplomatic solution rather than a more aggressive confrontation. 

“Therefore, it seems to be the case that these countries will continue to emphasize the importance of peace and stability as the foundation for strengthening the growth of, and cooperation between, the two countries,” it said.  

In the meantime, many Guyanese are talking about ‘war’ on social media, while government supporters in Venezuela have held demonstrations this week holding signs that said the Essequibo Region belongs to them.

Now it’s just a matter of waiting to see what will happen after Venezuela’s referendum.


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  1. Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
    October 31, 2023

    How can you insinuate that there are are no Roads into Essequibo when there are 24,238 people, who live in scattered Indigenous villages and land settlement schemes.
    Note:There are two ways to get from Georgetown into Essequibo; and Demerara: that is by ferry or motor vehicles, cars and trucks!

    I mean if there are roads extending from South America to North America, one can imagine there must be a network of roads to accommodate that.
    Right now, in 2023, there are people walking from Venezuela to the United States arriving at the boarder right this day, as refugees, and asylum seekers they are pile up on the boarder of the United States and Mexico waiting to be accepted into the United States!
    it’s not like Essequibo, is a jungle where naked indigenous people walking around naked, unless I am wrong I think that’s where some of the rice grown in Guyana came from.

  2. Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
    October 30, 2023

    The way I see it is the strong picking on the weak!
    Venezuela is equip with a Military Army with military tank’s and even a Navy. With the Knowledge that Guyana is defenseless, the Venezuelans are pushing to see if the world is going standby and watch them annex Guyana.
    Now; since Roosevelt Skerrit the doctor of fart, like to pretend to his stupid followers in Dominica that he is a power in world affairs, and like to runoff his mouth, talking crap when standing next of Cuba Castro, shouting “United States should lift embargo on Cuba” I want him to dip, his mouth into this issue and resolve it!
    Since he is Chairman (god) of CARICOM), where is his voice?
    Seems to me he has since become mute, he is going to have to pick a side: He will pick Venezuela, for payment of all the money he owes to that country! When the war starts his minister of world affairs Henderson will shout escalate the war on Guyana.
    Blackborn or black boy will scream: wa police go Venezuela an fight Guyana!

  3. JamesW
    October 27, 2023

    Since there seem to be no roads into this area, both claims are laughable. Tell me when someone builds a road…

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7
    • Mayardo
      October 30, 2023

      they discovered oil.. this will get ugly

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0
  4. I still Red
    October 27, 2023

    Between 2001- 2004, Skerrit told the nation that he would not contest another election under the then Pierre Charles as leader.
    Skerrit, as a junior minister met with China for a secret meeting that no one knew about. Shortly after, sadly like Rosie, pierro died on Jan 6, 2004 and Skerrit became PM hmm
    In March 2004 Skerrit signed a deal with China and almost 20 yrs later no one knows what is in the MOU. Was it our bill of sale?
    In 2017, he got rid of Ross university after 40 yrs in Dominica, a student body of over 1200 that created jobs both directly and indirectly to over 1000 Dominicans because he didn’t want US presence here.
    Since then, China has taken over One Mile in Portsmouth, an area that once housed the agricultural depot before when we gained independence from Britain
    China is quickly taking over Wesley and Woodfordhill, our biggest agricultural community
    Skerrit killed our banana industry
    People Skerrit has us brewing in China’s pot. Time will tell

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 4
    • Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
      October 30, 2023

      “Venezuela signals intention to annex Essequibo region of Guyana;”
      So, what does what you wrote have to do with the death of Roosevelt Douglas, and Pierre Charles? I nevertheless agree with your concern regarding the Chines take over of Wesley, and Woodford Hill.
      It is a conspiracy between Roosevelt and the Chines; to allow the Chines to build a Military Base on land between Wesley and Woodford Hill. If I am not correct, Roosevelt need to answer the question why, if he claimed to be building an International Airport in Wesley; why is he spending money on Melville Hall Airport to lengthen it as he claimed to accommodate International flights? If indeed it will accommodate international flights; it will become an International Airport, so Dominica will have two Intentional Airport two and a half miles apart!
      Charles and Douglas were not murdered, Rosie Douglas died from hypertension, while Charles died from some physiological issues!
      Revere death is another issue!

  5. Just Asking
    October 27, 2023

    And even Bird Island over a thousand miles away? Where are our activists like Roosie Douglas, silenced? We love and NEED you Brothers.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1
  6. Jeff
    October 27, 2023

    this is just an attempt to steal the newly found resources of Guyana. what’s even laughable is that Venezuela has all these resources but couldn’t manage it to save their own lives.

    failed state

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0
  7. kubulol
    October 27, 2023

    Another effect of the Venezuelan dictatorship

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2
    • Theresa Lewis
      November 2, 2023

      You are so wrong. Don’t let western media educate you.

  8. disgusted
    October 27, 2023

    this is a useless conflict. creating a problem where this little issue could go away quickly. do you thin that this is in the best interest of thee poor people that occupying this region? its absolutely not, but they may end up paying for it unwillingly. smh
    wars and rumors of war

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  9. L C Matthew
    October 26, 2023

    This could get ugly real fast. let see who is the real traitor and who has real leadership. let’s see if RSS have real balls. They have shown they are cowards by attacking an unarmed sleeping community. After hurricane Maria Dominica police ran home and some were even looting. Here Julius Corbett may get a chance prove himself in jungle combat against Venezuela military in defense of a fellow caricom nation. Those trigger happy police can get a chance to experience what it is to get an opposition that armed. Let the retards that following skerrit go spend some time in jungle. Let’s see who brave

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 2
    • L C Matthew
      October 27, 2023

      “Lincoln Corbett” the choksi scandal puppet on a string. not Julius

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2
  10. Ibo France
    October 26, 2023

    Venezuela is taking their cue from Russia invading Ukraine; China on the verge to confiscate Taiwan as their own; Israel gobbling up Palestine lands; so Venezuela thinks the environment is conducive to attack Guyana at this point in time.

    Where are the voices of fellow members of CARICOM to make an unequivocal statement in letting Venezuela know that they stand in unshakable solidarity with their brother member state of Guyana.

    CARICOM’s silence gives further credence to the perception that it is all talk no action. It’s a toothless Doberman. It’s all bark and no bite.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 4
    • L C Matthew
      October 26, 2023

      the chairman of Caricom is compromised. you think all these gifts were for free. the devil has come back for his due.
      let’s see who is the traitor.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 1
    • MEME
      October 26, 2023

      You forgot either deliberately or through ignorance, America’s illegal occupation of one third of Syria. I think it’s the latter!

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 18
    • MEME
      October 26, 2023

      You don’t know zilch about what is going on in Taiwan, because as i have intimated to you myriad times, you dont read….You come here to bla! bla! bla!, because you know many UWP supporters on this medium dont like to hear the names Russia or China.
      For your edification, America is using Taiwan as a proxy to fight China, because they believe this will weaken China. It’s the same provocation they used Zelensky (the worlds most corrupt soul alive) to foment with Russia. Now UKRAINE is comprehensively defeated, and the same fate awaits Taiwan, if the crazy leader follows America’s advice!
      Stop being empty. Do some reading.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 20
      • Putin
        October 27, 2023

        “Stop being empty. Do some reading.”

        Well, it was about time that one of his own tell it to him as it is. Well done, MEME!

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 0 Thumb down 16
      • Ibo France
        October 27, 2023

        Putin and Xi can get you to do even the unthinkable for them. They only have to ask and you would do all sorts of contortions at their pleasure.

        These two satanic pariahs are your deity. No one even with a modicum of common sense believes that any human being is infallible as you do with your excessive admiration for two of the world’s most contemptible rogue leaders. Profoundly Asinine!!

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2
      • RandyX
        October 28, 2023

        I must suggest that you (meme) are the one that does not read. Ukraine is comprehensively defeated? Where did you hear this Probably strait from Putins censored state media. You know, I actually feel sorry for Simple Minds like yourself. Do us all a favour and commend on TASS.

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0
      • Theresa Lewis
        November 2, 2023

        The US has placed an idea embargo on Venezuela crippling its ability to build an oil refinery.
        Now oil has been discovered there, EXXon Mobil had already signed with Guyana to control that oil.

    • Our parrots are laying eggs
      October 30, 2023

      Taiwan is a part of China. there is no conflict there. it’s the same people. it’s just like a disobedient child who runs to the shed in their yard and claims it as his/her own. and says that is his/her home. whilst not considering that the shed is his/her parents own and it’s in their back yard.

  11. Wars
    October 26, 2023

    Venezuela 🇻🇪 could take that land very easy because look how close they are. China is a million and a half miles from Dominica and they were able to take the entire country. Greed and the love of money is the Key. Venezuela is an Oil Rich County if Maduro gives each government minister from the Guyanese government $100,000,000.00 the deal is done. That portion of land Venezuela is after is filled with Oil. This is a little Saudi Arabia 🇸🇦 without question. Here in Dominica our people are living to encroach on their neighbors property and want to be wrong and strong on top of it. Let’s see what CARICOM will do. Maduro is waiting.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 3
  12. BRidge
    October 26, 2023

    Here comes another headache for Mr. Chairman of CARICOM (Skerrit). What will he do? In true fashion, run away no doubt, until the dust has settled.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 34 Thumb down 2
    • Guyanese
      October 26, 2023

      Now is the best time for Venezuela to take the Essequibo Region from Guyana. Their best friend and Chairnan of CARICOM, Prime Minister Dr Dr Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica, should have no problem with such a move by Mad You Row.

      CARICOM headquarters will be relocated to Dominica, and regional security service will not be activated because is not Salisbury or Marigot people the RSS going to bully. They not dear attack Maduro ALBA conquest army.

      i heard Guatemala planning to take over Belize again.

      Maduro sending thousands to Trinidad and Tobago to subtley take over that country.

      Over 47,000 CBI passports, many to rogues and vacabonds.

      And right here Charlo annex Lamothe. Need i say more. Oh Roseau in the hands of CBI passport sellers and chinese.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2
      • Peace
        October 29, 2023

        Venezuela will ultimately lose. There are too many countries on Guyana’s side. The US will have every right to launch a bombing campaign on Venezuela.

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