Venezuelan ambassador to Dominica, José Durabio Moros, has accused oil and gas giant ExxonMobil of trying to destabilize the Caribbean and South America as a border dispute between his country and Guyana continues to heat up. Speaking on state-owned DBS Radio on Wednesday, Moros said the two South American countries enjoyed good relations until oil resources were discovered and since then the oil company has been pushing Guyana “to fight” Venezuela.
“From 1966 to 2015 Venezuela and Guyana have been in good relationship, in a help-each-other relationship,” Moros stated. “Venezuela has cooperated with Guyana and Guyana has cooperated with Venezuela.”
He added that the two countries have worked together on projects such as Petrocaribe, amongst others and that “Venezuela helped in solidarity with our fellow countries.”
However, according to Moros, all this changed after the oil resources were discovered in 2015/16 by ExxonMobil.
“ExxonMobil started to push Guyana to fight Venezuela, to push Guyana, to escalate so they can appropriate the oil resources that they found,” he remarked. “So ExxonMobil is using Guyana as a Trojan Horse to destabilize the Caribbean and the South America region. They don’t care about the good relations between us, they just care about…to appropriate, to gain the oil resources.”
Guyana and Venezuela have been in an escalating dispute over a wide swathe of potentially oil-rich land between them known as the Essequibo Region, which both countries claim belongs to them. Venezuela will be holding a referendum on December 3, and one of the questions being posed to citizens is whether they agree to make the region a state of Venezuela. Guyana has described the planned referendum as nothing less than the annexation of its territory, which it said is a blatant violation of the most fundamental rules of the UN Charter, the OAS Charter, and general international law.
CARICOM has sided with Guyana on the matter saying that the planned referendum amounts to taking over Guyanese territory which is a violation of international law. Guyana is a member of CARICOM. However, Moros said the referendum is a right of all Venezuelans to prove to the world the rights that they have over their territory.
“It’s not the position of one or two of us, it’s the position of Venezuelans,” he said.
“So that is why on December the third we are going to do the referendum. We are promoting it around the country, people are excited to go to vote and to express their position about our territory.”
He said President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, has explained at a conference the “historical moment and he is explaining why we have the right of that piece of land.”
Despite this, Moros said Venezuela hopes the matter is settled peacefully.
“Venezuela as a peaceful country wants a peaceful solution with Guyana under the 1966 Geneva Agreement,” he said. “We wish that Guyana recognize that it is making a mistake, not to believe in these transnational powers, and try to get back to a position [of] negotiation and a peaceful solution with us.”
Meanwhile on Tuesday this week, Guyana went to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague asking it to issue emergency measures to stop the referendum. However, today Wednesday, November 14, Venezuela said it will go on no matter what.
“Nothing will prevent the referendum scheduled for December 3 from being held,” Venezuela’s Vice President Delcy Rodriguez told the court.
The ICJ, also known as The World Court, which is the United Nations’ highest court for disputes between states, has not set a date for a ruling on the matter. However, according to the Reuters news agencies, decisions on emergency matters are usually issued within a few weeks.
The rulings of the ICJ are final however, it has no way of enforcing them.