Venezuela adopts a law affirming its sovereignty over Essequibo, current territory of Guyana

Venezuela adopted a law on Thursday March 21 affirming its sovereignty over Essequibo, an oil-rich territory administered by neighboring Guyana, which denounced Friday a “flagrant violation of its sovereignty

Venezuela adopts a law affirming its sovereignty over Essequibo, current territory of Guyana

Venezuela adopted a law on Thursday March 21 affirming its sovereignty over Essequibo, an oil-rich territory administered by neighboring Guyana, which denounced Friday a “flagrant violation of its sovereignty.” The law approved unanimously in plenary session was submitted to the Supreme Court which must validate its constitutionality.

It was written by President Nicolas Maduro after the referendum organized in December on the annexation of the disputed region. The law designates the territory as a new state of Venezuela, governed from the town of Tumeremo, located in the Venezuelan state of Bolivar.

“We did it,” rejoiced after the vote Jorge Rodriguez, president of parliament and one of the main promoters of the text. “This National Assembly confirms the right of the Venezuelan people to defend their territory,” declared Diosdado Cabello, considered the number two in Venezuelan power.

Venezuela accused of “illegal expansionism”

For its part, Guyana declared itself in a press release “gravely concerned” by the adoption of this law, considering that it “is a flagrant violation of the sovereignty of Guyana”. He called on the international community to “uphold the rule of law by rejecting Venezuela’s illegal expansionism.”

A territory of 160,000 km² rich in oil and natural resources, Essequibo is at the center of strong tensions between the two countries after the launch in September of oil tenders by Guyana in the territory, which pushed Venezuela to organize its referendum. This resulted in an “overwhelming victory” (96.33%) on the question of the region’s integration into Venezuela.

Some 125,000 people, or a fifth of Guyana's population, live in Essequibo, which covers two-thirds of the country's land area. Venezuela maintains that the Essequibo River should be the natural border, as in 1777 during the time of the Spanish Empire. Guyana, for its part, assures that the border, dating from the English colonial era, was ratified in 1899 by an arbitration court in Paris.