New war risks breaking out and creating dangerous escalation

The winds of war around the world continue to blow, this time in South America. There are fears that Nicolás Maduro’s Venezuela may invade Guyana to resolve by force a territorial dispute over the oil-rich Esequibo region, which Caracas claims as its own. Concerned about possible conflict, neighboring Brazil “intensified defensive actions” along its northern border. “The Ministry of Defense monitored the situation and encouraged increased military presence by intensifying defensive actions in the country’s northern border region,” the government said in a statement on Wednesday.

Brasilia’s push to send more military forces north comes at a time of rising tensions over ownership of Esequiba, which accounts for more than two-thirds of Guyana’s total landmass. It is a region of 160 thousand square kilometers where 125 thousand of the 800 thousand Guyanese in the country (according to 2012 data) live and English is spoken. The territory, which was allocated to Georgetown by an arbitration decision dating back to 1899, is rich in oil, minerals and watersheds, and has been the object of Venezuelan lust for years; This situation has increased even more since the American group ExxonMobil discovered other rich deposits in 2015. There are hydrocarbons. British, Russian and American referees decided on the controversial border. The United States represented Venezuela on the panel, in part because the Venezuelan government had severed diplomatic relations with Great Britain.

Venezuelan officials allege that Americans and Europeans conspired to deprive their country of the territory and argue that a 1966 agreement to resolve the dispute would effectively nullify the original arbitration. Guyana, the only English-speaking country in South America, maintains that the initial agreement was legal and binding and in 2018 asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the United Nations’ highest judicial body, to declare this. Caracas will hold a consultative referendum next Sunday, December 3, that will ask Venezuelans whether they would agree to reject the 1899 arbitration and integrate the territory into Venezuela through the “granting of Venezuelan citizenship” to its residents.

The country’s citizens will also be asked to refuse to recognize the International Court of Justice’s jurisdiction over the matter. The IGC is expected to rule today (December 1) on Guyana’s request to cancel the consultation, but Maduro has already announced that it will proceed anyway. Venezuela protested the oil tender announced by Georgetown in September, arguing that offshore fields were disputed and companies winning these fields would not have the right to explore them.

Why does Venezuela want to invade Guyana?

Guyana is a very small country compared to Venezuela, but it is a close ally of the United States, which has been an enemy of Caracas since the time of Hugo Chavez’s Bolivarian, socialist revolution. This means there is a serious risk of escalation. “We believe that Venezuela will not act recklessly. But if it does, we have already contacted our strategic partners,” Guyanese President Irfaan Ali said on November 18. he warned. “The Chief of Staff and the high command are in constant contact with partners throughout the region and, of course, outside the region,” he added.

Last week, his deputy announced the establishment of military bases in Esequiba. “We have never been interested in military bases, but we have to protect our national interests,” Bharrat Jagdeo said. “We are interested in maintaining peace in our country and on our borders, but we are working with our allies to make sure we are prepared for any eventuality,” Jagdeo said. “All available options will be exploited,” he insisted, also announcing the visit of representatives from the Pentagon.

Venezuela believes that the natural border between the two countries is bordered by the Essequibo River and that the region of the same name should return to its possession. Venezuela’s claim becomes even more urgent considering that a new oil discovery was made in the region in October, adding at least 10 billion barrels to national reserves. Both countries are rich in black gold: Guyana has the largest oil reserves per capita in the world, while Venezuela has the largest proven reserves on the planet.

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Source: Today IT