Venezuelan President Urges Parliament to Declare Disputed Essequibo Country's New State
© AP Photo / Ariana CubillosVenezuela's President Nicolas Maduro waves as he arrives at the notification ceremony for the referendum about the future of a disputed territory with Guyana, in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Dec. 4, 2023.
© AP Photo / Ariana Cubillos
MEXICO CITY (Sputnik) - On Sunday, more than half of Venezuela's eligible voters, or 10.55 million people, participated in a consultative referendum on whether they support Guyana-Essequibo, a region disputed with neighboring Guyana, becoming a state within Venezuela. At least 95.93% of voters said yes, and 4.07% said no.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has urged the country's parliament to adopt a law on the protection of Guyana-Essequibo, the region disputed with neighboring Guyana, to create a new state within Venezuela.
"One of the main goals of an organic law on the protection of Guyana-Essequibo is to implement the decision many generations of Venezuelans has been dreaming of and create the state, Guyana-Essequibo, once and for all. The 24th state of Venezuela. Good look, adopt a good law using a high judicial and legislative technique and have good consultations," Maduro said at a meeting of the federal council of the government.
24 September 2023, 12:50
The Venezuelan leader has also proposed to give three months to oil companies to stop operations in Essequibo and declared the region a "zone of integral defense."
"I am giving all these [oil] companies three months to stop operations in the non-delimited sea, three months. And we are open for talks, But in the good will and with respect for international law and good neighborliness," Maduro told the meeting.
Venezuela will also "immediately" begin issuing licenses for the production and development of oil and gas in the region, the president added.
In Response to these developments, Guyanese President Irfaan Ali said on Wednesday that Georgetown considers Caracas' actions to incorporate the disputed Essequibo region, which makes up two-thirds of the territory controlled by Guyana, a threat to the country's national security and will raise the issue at the United Nations Security Council.
"Desperate actions of [Venezuelan] President [Nicolas] Maduro that fly in the face of international law and constitute a grave threat to international peace and security. Also, Guyana will tomorrow bring this matter to the UN Security Council for appropriate action to be taken by that body. We've engaged CARICOM, the Organization of American States, the Commonwealth, and many of our bilateral partners, including the United States of America, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and France," Ali said in a video address posted on social media.
The Guyanese leader described Venezuela's move as a "threat to territorial integrity" and said Georgetown was stepping up precautionary measures to protect its territory.
Venezuela held a consultative referendum that involved over half of eligible Venezuelan voters, or 10.55 million people, on Sunday. The referendum's main question was whether Venezuelans supported Guyana-Essequibo becoming a state within Venezuela, to which 95.93% responded in the affirmative and 4.07% in the negative.
Venezuela gained independence from Spain in 1845, with Essequibo recognized as part of its sovereign territory. In 1899, however, the United Kingdom filed and won an arbitration claim to recognize Essequibo as part of its then-Caribbean colony of British Guiana. Independent Guyana cited this arbitration award in its 2018 International Court of Justice case against Venezuela, claiming sovereignty over the disputed territory.