President Nicolas Maduro Maros of the Venezuelan United Socialist Party, has divided his country’s people in two after his inauguration in 2013, but has united them under one issue, taking the long-disputed Essequibo territory in Guyana and the surrounding maritime area.
The former vice president and minister of foreign affairs under Hugo Chavez has been under fire from the opposition and other political leaders in South America. The lack of basic necessities, civil liberties and human rights, as well as increase in crime in Venezuela has made Chavez’s handpicked successor a bit of a laughing stock in the Latin American political circle.
As a result, Maduro has been facing a large drop in approval ratings and that has ignited a fire under the opposition, Coalition for Democratic Unity, to try an oust him since many in that party believe his election victory, in which he had less than 1.5% edge, was a result of ballot tampering.
However, if he acquires the oil rich Essequibo land in Guyana, about two thirds of the country that has been disputed for in 1899 and 1962, he can start to change Venezuela’s deep economic disaster before the parliamentary elections in December and the outlook of his presidency.
This can possibly help create jobs, cut the crime rate and aid the those that are living beneath the poverty line in Venezuela if they ever get to see any of that potential money.
Maduro is so adamant about claiming the land that he has implemented plans to issue 200,000 identification cards to Guyanese people on the territory and present ad campaigns implying they would have a better livelihood under Venezuelan rule; Guyana is the third-poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
Despite the fight over which country has the rights to the Essequibo region, in the eyes of the international community, it belongs to Guyana, a country that has been facing its own economic downturn for years. Still, after the 1962 ruling, Venezuela has persistently been trying to negotiate with the former British colony for that territory, but Guyana has consistenly refused to rollover.
The recently elected president of Guyana responded to Maduro’s claims at an address to the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM):
Guyana’s border with Venezuela was fixed 116 years ago. Maps were drawn. Atlases were adjusted. Border markers were cast in stone,” said President David Granger.
The newly discovered oil in the territory will help Guyana to be less reliant on Venezuela (one of the largest exporters in the World) to meet that need. For years Guyana has traded rice for Venezuelan oil.
Oil will not be the only thing Guyana loses if it turns over the grassland and jungle area to Venezuela. Many locals already make a living off the land for gold, mineral and hunting.
Of course the United States has a part to play in all of this. It was the United States’ own oil compamy, ExxonMobil, that made the discovery of the oil in Guyana’s maritime area. Also, the United States has economic sanctions against Venezuela for its human rights violations, resulting in the country’s sharp economic decline. Approximately 95% of the South American country’s foreign exchange comes from oil. Without the U.S., one of the biggest importers of oil, Venezuela can end up a failed state.
Maduro suggests that Guyana should listen to what Venezuela has to offer and that by no means does he want the dispute to escalate into a violence.
“The Essequibo issue cannot be resolved militarily,” said Maduro. Instead, he is hoping for a diplomatic approach.
If Guyana doesn’t believe his claims, it has to do with Maduro appointing General Gerardo Izquierdo to lead the commissiion on the Essequibo region. Guyana has also met with the United Nations about the Essequibo issue being a national security problem, but has recently decided to take up matters on its own if its “sovereignity is threatened,” according to the country’s foreign minister.
Should Venezuela diversify its foreign exports to help its country, or take on a territorial battle and possible actual one with Guyana? Is Guyana on Venezuelan territory and should it give it back, or does the country have every right to defend itself from a long-settled land dispute? Is the United States’ interference the real problem, and were the sanctions against Venezuela necessary to address the human rights violations?
Tell us what you think about the situation.
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