Venezuela has approved a law to annex Essequibo which Guyana considers a serious threat

Venezuela approved legislation this week to annex the Essequibo territory, part of a historic dispute with Guyana. The National Assembly, controlled by Nicolás Maduro, has formally created the state of Guayana Essequiba, which Venezuela’s president had already ordered to be included on the country’s official maps last December. This forest area of ​​approximately 160,000 square kilometers is actually administered by Guyana, which has already issued a statement expressing its concern about the new step taken by Venezuela and calling on the international community to intervene.

The Organic Law for the Protectorate of Essequibo establishes that “while the internal situation of the entity is resolved”, the Venezuelan head of state will elect the governor and the National Assembly will take over the legislative functions of the territory. Along with the electoral event in Venezuela, the border conflict with the neighboring country also progresses and the law also reacts to that situation. Article 25 of the law indicates that all candidates supporting Guyanese status for elected office may be disqualified from competing, representing a new filter with which Maduro and Chavismo in power will approach the presidential elections in July. Will remove rivals on the way. 28 and in successive processes scheduled for 2025 and 2026 in which new deputies, governors and mayors will be elected. In an extreme case, an escalation of international conflict – as some analysts have warned – would allow Maduro to declare a state of exception in which he would postpone elections reaching his lowest popularity with at least 80% disapproval. can do. Population according to most surveys.

The rule was approved on Thursday, the same day that the deadline to register applications for the presidency opened, and it was sent to the Supreme Court to validate its constitutionality, which the entity issued in less than 24 hours. Gave a positive response in a clear verdict. The approval of the law came two days after the head of parliament, Jorge Rodríguez, proposed another legislative project to “severely” punish “traitors,” opening a new front to discreetly persecute those who Disagree with the government.

Late last year, Maduro called on Venezuelans to hold a referendum on the creation of a new province on the Essequibo region – twice the size of Guyana. In the consultation he also supported bypassing the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice, which Guyana disputed in 2018 and to which Venezuela must defend itself next April. It was a political response to the massive opposition mobilization for the primaries in which María Corina Machado was elected, later disqualified and replaced by Corina Yorris unanimously with members of the Unitary Platform this Friday.

Chavismo used Essequibo to calibrate its electoral machinery and claimed to have received 10,000,000 votes, although official results had not yet been published and many polling stations looked deserted that day. A regional conflict thus erupted, with exchanges of statements and military mobilization on both sides of the disputed borders, leading to mediation by Brazil, the United States, CARICOM, and SELAC. On 14 December, Maduro and his Guyanese counterpart Irfan Ali agreed to reduce hostilities in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and reopen diplomatic channels to resolve the conflict.

Now Guyana has once again called on the international community to stop Venezuela’s “expansionist intentions.” Guyana’s Foreign Ministry has warned that its sovereignty is being violated, as well as rulings of the International Court of Justice that urge parties to avoid actions that could escalate the conflict and President Lula da Silva. The Argyle Treaty sponsored by is also being violated. However, for several years, the English-speaking country has granted concessions to international companies for oil exploration and exploitation in the waters of the disputed area and has strengthened its relationship with the United States on issues of military cooperation.

Venezuela has also alleged violations of last December’s agreements, but for different reasons. Vice President Delsey Rodriguez and Foreign Minister Yvan Gil have described the recent visit of US intelligence agency director William Burns to Guyana as a “clear threat”. “The history of the CIA does not have a single positive milestone in its file: only death, violence and destruction,” Rodriguez wrote on his social networks. “Guyana openly violates international law and continues to ignore the Argyll Agreement. “Venezuela will not allow itself to be intimidated and will continue on its path to legitimacy and peace.”

In this dispute spanning more than two centuries, Guyana defends the border established in an 1899 arbitration award, placing within its borders an area that had been on the maps of the Captaincy General of Venezuela since 1777, long before independence from Spain. Venezuela considers this document rigged and seeks a diplomatic solution to the conflict based on the 1966 Geneva Accords, a path the Guyanese government has already exhausted after the failure of several well-intentioned efforts. . The United Nations, recognized by the Secretary-General Antonio Guterres himself, referred the case to the International Court of Justice, which must determine the validity of the award and then establish limits.

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