Dec 09, 2023 News
Kaieteur News – Venezuela’s illegal pursuit of Guyana’s Essequibo region has garnered global attention, with analysts noting that Guyana has widespread international support. Tatiana Rusakova, a senior researcher at the Institute of Latin America of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Phil Gunson, Andes Project Senior Analyst at the International Crisis Group and a Venezuelan analyst, provided insights on the situation.
Rusakova, speaking to Russian News Agency TASS, indicated that Venezuela is likely to face considerable external pressure and lack of support from even its allies if it attempts military annexation of the region. This follows announcements by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro which appear to suggest preparation to take the territory by force, backed by a sham referendum where approximately 95% voted for the creation of the state of Guayana-Esequiba as part of Venezuela.
“… International support is not on Caracas’ side. This is a long-standing dispute. The sympathies of the main players, even Cuba, which has always supported Venezuela, and all integration blocs are on the side of Georgetown,” Rusakova said.
“Maduro’s idea of declaring Essequibo as the 24th state does not meet with understanding even among longtime allies.”
She further added that Nicaragua, under President Daniel Ortega, might be the only supporter of Venezuela in this conflict. The Central American nation had declared its support for the referendum prior to it being exercised.
Rusakova also noted the potential repercussions of Maduro’s actions on Venezuela, particularly in relation to sanctions. “If what Nicolas Maduro is proposing begins to be implemented, all the sanctions lifted as a result of the Barbados agreements will instantly be reintroduced,” she said.
Rusakova added that the impact of these sanctions will be primarily on ordinary people. “This will lead to new waves of migration from Venezuela,” she said.
Rusakova said there is hope for a peaceful resolution, given the South American region’s history of resolving conflicts without extreme measures. With the United Nations Secretary General referring the matter to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the Court is examining the question of the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award. The ICJ has issued measures which prohibit Venezuela from interfering with Guyana’s administration and control of the territory. But Maduro appears to be using the results of the referendum, which has no standing in international law, as a license to disregard the authority of the Court.
Phil Gunson, in an interview with France 24, said the referendum and the territorial claim might be more about Venezuelan internal politics than a serious attempt to annex the Essequibo region. “This is a very unpopular president who faces a difficult election campaign next year. He was seeking to wrap himself in the flag… And I think despite the figures that the government is presenting, the reality is that they did exactly the reverse,” Gunson stated.
Low turnout marred the December 3 referendum. The National Electoral Council gave little information to hold up to scrutiny. Gunson said the day of the vote felt like a regular Sunday in Venezuela, conveying just how uninterested most Venezuelans were in the referendum. Maduro’s presidential opponent, Mario Machado, said recently that the turnout was an indicator of the Venezuelan people’s rejection of Maduro.
Gunson also pointed out the significance of recent oil discoveries offshore Guyana, which have raised the stakes in this controversy. He noted that while Venezuela has historically laid claim to the Essequibo, the issue was put on the back burner during Hugo Chavez’s presidency, only to resurface now as a convenient political tool for Maduro.
Discussing the regional implications, Gunson mentioned that Brazil has made attempts to calm the situation. He also highlighted the overwhelming international support for Guyana, saying, “The Commonwealth is totally behind Guyana. In fact, almost the whole world is totally behind Guyana.”
Rusakova and Gunson agree that Venezuela faces a significant uphill climb in his claim for the Essequibo region, with global support leaning heavily towards Guyana. The matter is expected to be examined by the United Nations Security Council today.
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