Venezuela’s Socialist Regime Prepares Sham ‘Vote’ to Annex Most of Guyana

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro gives a speech during the closing campaign on Ve
AP Photo/Matias Delacroix

CARACAS, Venezuela — The socialist regime of dictator Nicolás Maduro is preparing to hold a sham referendum on Sunday that asks voters “what to do” to address a 120-year-old territorial dispute with neighboring Guyana.

Sunday’s vote will ask Venezuelans if they support carving a new state out of the Essequibo region and giving Venezuelan citizenship to its 125,000 inhabitants. Guyana, which has denounced the referendum as a step towards annexation, asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in November to intercede and stop the vote via an injunction.

Venezuela and Guyana have maintained a territorial dispute since the 19th century over the Essequibo, a 61,600-square-mile territory currently administered by Guyana. The land represents about two-thirds of Guyana’s entire territory. Venezuela has argued that the contested territory should be within its borders since it gained its independence from Spain in 1811 – long before the socialists took over.

The ICJ issued a binding ruling on Friday morning ordering Venezuela to “refrain from taking any action which would modify the situation that currently prevails in the territory in dispute.” 

Socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro announced in an official statement published on Friday afternoon that, although his regime “takes note” of the ruling, it “does not recognize” the court’s jurisdiction on the Essequibo territorial dispute and will carry out Sunday’s referendum.

The statement also accused Guyana of being a “de facto occupant” of the contested territory and of “facilitating” the future military deployment of “the world’s foremost warmongering power,” insinuating that the United States will soon invade it. The Maduro regime has maintained a virulently anti-American stance for two decades and regularly claims Washington is planning to colonize South America.

The current borders between Venezuela and Guyana were established by an 1899 arbitration process held in Paris. At the time, Guyana was known as “British Guiana” and was under the rule of the United Kingdom. Venezuela has historically denounced the 1899 arbitration ruling as fraudulent.

After Venezuela contested the 1899 agreement at the United Nations in 1962, a new agreement was signed in Geneva in 1966 between Venezuela and the United Kingdom at a time when Guyana was months away from gaining its independence. The 1966 agreement granted control of the territory to Guyana until a permanent solution was found. The agreement, however, never reached a definitive conclusion.

It is largely believed that late socialist dictator Hugo Chávez stopped pursuing Venezuela’s territorial dispute claim nearly 20 years ago at the request of late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro at a time when Chávez began consolidating his regime’s influence in the region.

The dispute remained virtually dormant until recent years when Guyana discovered oil and gas in the region. The latest discovery took place in October.

Houston-based ExxonMobil has already begun to extract oil in the contested territory after being awarded a contract by Guyana alongside other oil companies, which drew the ire of socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro and high-ranking members of his regime. Maduro has accused the Guyanese president of being controlled by ExxonMobil.

Following a request issued by Guyana in 2018, the International Court of Justice ruled in April that it has jurisdiction over the dispute. The Maduro regime announced that it would not recognize the court’s jurisdiction at the time and fulfilled that promise on Friday.

Sunday’s sham referendum will consist of five questions regarding the Essequibo region. The first question asks if the voter agrees to reject “by all means in accordance with the law” the territorial zone established by the 1899 Paris arbitration. The second question asks if the voter supports the 1966 Geneva agreement “as the only valid legal instrument to reach a practical and satisfactory solution for Venezuela and Guyana.”

The third question asks if the voter “agrees with Venezuela’s historical position of not recognizing” the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice to resolve the territorial controversy. The fourth question asks if the voter “agrees to oppose, by all legal means,” Guyana’s claim of the territory.

Lastly, the fifth question asks if the voter “agrees with the creation of the Guayana Esequiba state and the development of an accelerated plan for comprehensive care for the current and future population of that territory, which includes, among others, the granting of citizenship and identity card.” 

Pamphlet distributed in Venezuela explaining referendum to create a 25th state made out of two-thirds of Guyana, December 2023

Pamphlet distributed in Venezuela explaining referendum to create a new state made out of two-thirds of Guyana, December 2023 (Christian K. Caruzo/Breitbart News)

Pamphlet distributed in Venezuela explaining referendum to create a 25th state made out of two-thirds of Guyana, December 2023Pamphlet distributed in Venezuela explaining referendum to create a 25th state made out of two-thirds of Guyana, December 2023

Pamphlet distributed in Venezuela explaining referendum to create a new state made out of two-thirds of Guyana, December 2023. (Christian K. Caruzo/Breitbart News)

The Maduro regime has spared no expense in its propaganda and electoral campaign ahead of Sunday’s referendum, going as far as to commission advertisements against ExxonMobil, claiming, “if we allow them to steal the Esequibo, what else will they steal next?”

The Maduro regime’s statements against the International Court of Justice and its upcoming referendum have led to rising tensions in the region. Brazil, which shares its northern borders with both countries, has “intensified”  its military presence there. The United States announced that it will bolster its military partnership with Guyana.

Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López claimed last week that the dispute “is not an armed war, for now.” Padrino López has nevertheless published military propaganda that asserts that “this land is ours.”

Maduro claimed this week that “rain, shine or lightning, there will be a referendum on the Esequibo” during an official event.

“I say to the Government of Guyana, I say to ExxonMobil and to the Southern Command: in Venezuela, rain, thunder or lightning, on Sunday, December 3, the homeland and the people in the streets voting and deciding, because in Venezuela the people rule,” said Maduro during a meeting with mobilization forces of the campaign for the electoral event, in Caracas.

The socialist dictator asked the United States: “open your eyes, take a good look, listen well, it is not a man, it is not Maduro, it is a people, it is the man, it is the woman on foot, it is the child, it is the girl, sown forever for the flourishing and independence of Venezuela.”

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.


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