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In a recent escalation of the long-standing territorial controversy over the Essequibo region, Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodríguez has sparked controversy with her pointed remarks directed at Guyana. Rodríguez accused Guyanese President Mohamed Irfaan Ali of being a “de facto occupier” of Essequibo, demanding that he “adjust his illicit behavior to the law.”
The tension between the two nations intensified as Rodríguez criticized President Ali’s approach, accusing him of seeking international support to “rob Venezuela in peace.” These comments have been widely seen as an aggressive move by Venezuela, challenging Guyana’s sovereignty and diplomatic efforts to resolve the dispute.
President Ali, representing Guyana, has stood firm in the face of these accusations, asserting the nation’s rights over the Essequibo region. He has reached out to international bodies for support, signaling Guyana’s commitment to a peaceful resolution in accordance with international law, and considered the installation of the United States Southern Command in the territory for added security.
In response to Guyana’s actions, the Venezuelan government, led by President Nicolás Maduro, has taken assertive steps in the Essequibo region. Maduro ordered the state oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, to issue licenses for resource exploitation in Essequibo and established the PDVSA-Essequibo division. Additionally, a “High Commission for the Defense of Guayana Esequiba” has been created under Rodríguez’s coordination. This commission is tasked with implementing the “decision” of the Venezuelan people, who, as indicated in the December 3 referendum, overwhelmingly support the recovery of the Essequibo territory.
The referendum’s results and the formation of the commission highlight Venezuela’s firm stance on the issue, yet raise international concerns about the prospects for a peaceful resolution.
The unfolding situation puts the spotlight on the delicate balance between asserting national interests and adhering to international norms and agreements. As Guyana continues to navigate these complex diplomatic waters, it remains committed to defending its sovereignty while seeking a resolution that respects the principles of international law and peaceful coexistence.