• Venezuela Guyana feels an "existential threat" in the face of Venezuelan maneuvers in the Essequibo
  • Latin America: "Drums of War" between Venezuela and Guyana

The escalation of the crisis between Venezuela and Guyana over the Essequibo, a disputed territory between the two neighboring countries, is advancing unchecked with only eight days to go before the referendum proposed by Nicolás Maduro is held. The last of the five questions that make up the consultation asks Venezuelans if they agree to impose the state (region) of Guyana Esequiba to be annexed by Caracas, which has aroused great concern in the international community.

Currently, the 160,000 kilometers west of the Essequibo River and up to Mount Roraima are administered by the Georgetown government and are in the midst of litigation at the International Court of Justice, although Caracas does not recognize it. For two decades, Hugo Chávez and Maduro himself forgot their claim because Guyana is an old ally of Cuba and a key part of the Caribbean community, to which Chavismo resorts for votes in international organizations. The discoveries of the oil company ExxonMobil in recent years, which have already made Guyana the second fastest growing country on the planet, have turned the Essequibo into an economically coveted territory.

"This is not an armed war, for now... With these forms of neighborhood "chulo" (in reference to Guyana President Irfaan Ali) we will not resolve the dispute," said General Vladimir Padrino López, Minister of Defense and a key player in Maduro's military support. "For now" is the same expression used by Hugo Chávez when he failed in his 1992 coup attempt against Carlos Andrés Pérez. Six years later he would win the presidential election.

"With our Bolivarian National Armed Forces, all of Venezuela will continue to fight to recover the Essequibo, for sovereignty and national integrity. It's our destiny!" cried Maduro, immersed in a million-dollar propaganda campaign, with which he seeks to mitigate the effects of the successful opposition primaries.

"In Guyana, the (US) Southern Command is in charge. We have obtained evidence that they are starting to build a military base of the Southern Command aimed at Venezuela. First serious element," Maduro harangued his generals.

The government of Irfaan Ali, a US ally and backed by the community of Caribbean and Commonwealth countries, has announced that next week two teams from the US Department of Defense will visit the Essequibo territory. Georgetown says it is mulling the establishment of foreign-backed military bases in the face of escalating conflict.

"We have never been interested in military bases, but we must protect our national interest. All available options will be taken advantage of," said Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo. Guyana considers the referendum on December 3 to be a "threat to peace" in Latin America and the Caribbean.

"It's getting more complicated. If this continues, (the conflict) will end up being armed," predicted Rocío San Miguel, president of Citizen Watch for Security, Defense and the National Armed Forces.

  • Venezuela
  • Nicolas Maduro