Guyana leery of Venezuela’s referendum on border issue

Guyana and Venezuela

Guyana says Venezuela’s upcoming national referendum on the disputed Essequibo region “amounts to nothing less than the annexation of Guyana’s territory”.

In a statement on Monday, Guyana said the referendum and seizure of Guyanese land “would constitute the international crime of aggression.”

Venezuela’s National Electoral Council approved five questions to be included in the national referendum scheduled for December 3, 2023.

The questions Venezuelans will vote on are:

  • Do you agree to reject, by all means, in accordance with the law, the line fraudulently imposed by the Paris Arbitral Award of 1899, which seeks to dispossess us of our Guyana Essequibo?
  • Do you support the Geneva Agreement of 1966 as the only valid legal instrument to reach a practical and satisfactory solution for Venezuela and Guyana, in relation to the dispute over the territory of the Guyana Essequibo?
  • Do you agree with Venezuela’s historical position of not recognizing the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice to resolve the territorial dispute over the Essequibo Guiana?
  • Do you agree to oppose, by all means, in accordance with the law, Guyana’s pretension to unilaterally dispose of a sea pending delimitation, in an illegal manner and in violation of international law?
  • Do you agree with the creation of the state of Guyana Essequibo and the development of an accelerated plan for the integral attention of the current and future population of that territory, which includes, among others, the granting of Venezuelan citizenship and identity cards, in accordance with the Geneva Agreement and International Law, consequently incorporating said state in the map of the Venezuelan territory?

Guyana has taken particular issue with the last question.

The Guyanese Government said it would reject any attempt by Venezuela to undermine its territorial integrity and sovereignty.

“The people of Guyana remain resolute against any threats to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of their country. Neither the Government or the people of one country have the right in international law to seize, annex or take the territory of another country. International law emphatically prohibits this,” Guyana said.

Guyana added that Venezuela’s continued action has the potential “to incite violence and to threaten the peace and security of the State of Guyana and by extension the Caribbean region.”