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Venezuela, Guyana Pledge to Keep Peace Amid Territorial Dispute – Bloomberg

Representatives of the Venezuela and Guyana governments discuss the territory of Essequibo at the Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia, Brazil Jan. 25.Photographer: Sergio Lima/AFP/
Representatives of the Venezuela and Guyana governments discuss the territory of Essequibo at the Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia, Brazil Jan. 25. Sergio Lima/AFP

Simone Iglesias and Andreina Itriago Acosta, Bloomberg News

EnergiesNet.com 01 29 2024

The foreign ministers of Venezuela and Guyana pledged to maintain peace and continue working toward a diplomatic solution to their simmering dispute over the oil-rich Essequibo region after a Thursday meeting in Brazil. 

Venezuela’s Yvan Gil and Guyana’s Hugh Hilton Todd met for the first time since the two nations struck the so-called Argyle declaration, a December agreement in which they promised to avoid the use of arms and other actions that risk escalating tensions over the territory.

Brazil Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira mediated the discussions. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s government has adopted the role as intermediary between the two nations, seeking to prevent the long-running dispute that erupted again last year from turning into an armed conflict in largely-peaceful South America.

“As we face wars in different parts of the world, we learn to value our culture of peace in Latin America and the Caribbean even more,” Vieira said during a press conference that followed the meeting.

Todd and Gil, in their own remarks, each reiterated that their nations were committed to peace. Both also said they wanted to hold similar meetings in the future. Neither shared specific details about their discussions.

The nations have disputed the status of the region, which accounts for about two-thirds of what Guyana considers its territory, since the late 1800s. 

Tensions began rising again in 2015, when US giant Exxon Mobil Corp discovered massive oil reserves off the Guyanese coast, and flared up last year after Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro held a referendum that purportedly showed overwhelming support for his nation’s push to take control of the Essequibo.

Read More: Venezuela Stirs Nationalism in Dispute With Guyana Over Oil

Maduro and Guyanese counterpart Irfaan Ali held an initial meeting on Dec. 14 in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, where they pledged to avoid escalations and committed to dialogue.

After the encounter, Maduro sent more than 5,000 troops and numerous ships and aircraft to his country’s east coast to counter the arrival of a British Royal Navy patrol boat for military exercises with Guyana. Venezuela pulled back troops after the ship withdrew.

Venezuela is prepared to continue the diplomatic talks, but will not accept the participation of countries from outside of Latin America in the discussions, Gil said at the press conference.

And while Guyana is confident that future meetings can move the discussions forward, Todd said the dispute must respect the boundaries of international law.

The International Court of Justice is currently weighing the Essequibo matter, but Maduro has previously said he doesn’t recognize its jurisdiction over Venezuela. 

–With assistance from Beatriz Reis and Fabiola Zerpa.

bloomberg.com 01 25 2024

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