Fears of a new conflict in Latin America:

Fears of a new conflict in Latin America:

-We are afraid. aghast.

This is what health worker Jacqueline Peters (39 years old) tells AFP.

She is one of Aarau’s 280 residents. The remote village is surrounded by the dense rainforests of today’s Guyana, but is only ten kilometers from the border with neighboring Venezuela.

After Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro claimed that this village – and up to two-thirds of Guyana – actually belongs to Venezuela, there are now growing fears of a larger conflict.

the reason? oil.

Celebration: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro now considers parts of Guyana his territory. Here during the referendum on December 3. Photography: Pedro Rances Mattei/AFP/NTP
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Caught again

It is the Essequibo area in question.

This oil- and mineral-rich region with a population of about 125,000 has belonged to Guyana, the third-smallest country in South America, since the International Boundary Commission decided the issue in 1899.

At that time, Guyana was a British colony and bore the name British Guiana, which it remained until 1966.

Claim: Kaieteur Waterfall, the tallest waterfall in the world, is located in the city of Essequibo, which Venezuela will claim.  Photo: Martin Silva/AFP/NTB

Claim: Kaieteur Waterfall, the tallest waterfall in the world, is located in the city of Essequibo, which Venezuela will claim. Photo: Martin Silva/AFP/NTB
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Since the Boundary Commission’s decision nearly 125 years ago, Venezuela has claimed that the decision was unfair and favored the colonial superpower Great Britain. They confirmed that the region was within the borders of Venezuela during the Spanish colonial period.

However, the area has taken on a whole new meaning in recent years.

The reason is that American oil giant ExxonMobil found oil off the coast of Essequibo in 2015.

In September this year, Guyana opened the way for oil companies to bid for exploration licenses in this coastal area.

– Annexation

Venezuela believes that any agreement reached in 1966 to find a solution would cancel the demarcation of the border from 1899. For its part, Guyana believes that the definition of the border that is almost 125 years old is binding.

Conflict: Nicolas Maduro (TV) claims that more than half of Guyana already belongs to Venezuela.  Guyana's president, Mohamed Irfaan Ali, appears to have no intention of abandoning the oil-rich part of the country.  Photography: Patrick T. Fallon and Ahmed Al-Gharabli/AFP/NTB

Conflict: Nicolas Maduro (TV) claims that more than half of Guyana actually belongs to Venezuela. Guyana’s president, Mohamed Irfaan Ali, appears to have no intention of abandoning the oil-rich part of the country. Photography: Patrick T. Fallon and Ahmed Al-Gharabli/AFP/NTB
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Today, Guyana’s area is 215,000 square kilometres, roughly the size of Great Britain. For comparison, the area of ​​mainland Norway is 385,207 square kilometers. However, Guyana consists of a significant amount of rainforest and has a population of only about 800,000 people.

The case is now before the International Court of Justice in The Hague, despite the fact that Venezuela claims that the ICC does not have the authority to intervene in the conflict between the two countries.

The conflict escalated last weekend, when Venezuelan President Maduro held a referendum on annexing the region to Venezuela.

an act: Authorities in Venezuela liberated a prison that prisoners had been running themselves. Among the facilities were a swimming pool, a nightclub and a zoo. Video: AFP, Ex/Twitter. Reporter: Björgi Dahle Johansen / Dagbladet TV
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It was reported that 95% of the alleged votes of over ten million supported Venezuela as the rightful owner of the country, although many of them questioned the electoral support in the referendum. BBC.

Shortly after, Maduro made a proposal to declare a new province in this region, while at the same time ordering the state oil company to immediately issue oil, gas and mining licenses here.

The Guyana government views the whole matter as an attempt at annexation.

Celebrating a new map: The Venezuelan National Assembly celebrated the new official map of Venezuela after Venezuela voted to incorporate Essequibo into Venezuela last Friday.  Photograph: Mathias Delacroix/AP

Celebrating a new map: The Venezuelan National Assembly celebrated the new official map of Venezuela after Venezuela voted to incorporate Essequibo into Venezuela last Friday. Photograph: Mathias Delacroix/AP
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Placed flags

Health worker Jacqueline Peters, 39, is among those living in the area that President Maduro now claims belongs to Venezuela.

On a high mountain near the village rises the Guyanese flag.

“Every morning we look at this flag and feel happy and proud,” she told AFP.

The flag was personally placed there by the President of Guyana, Muhammad Irfaan Ali, to prove that citizens belong to Guyana.

The region is now witnessing a violent escalation in the conflict.

Local residents told the news agency that the Venezuelan army was patrolling the area with boats and helicopters. Since September, the Venezuelan army has also reportedly begun taxing boats traveling up the river to the village carrying supplies.

This led to an explosion in prices.

– We don’t want Maduro here. “We don’t want corruption and poverty,” Thomas Defroy, the former leader of the village of Arau, told AFP.

Flags Placed: On the top of this mountain, the President of Guyana single-handedly placed the flag to prove that this area belongs to Guyana.  Photograph: Roberto Cisneros/AFP/NTP

Flags Placed: On the top of this mountain, the President of Guyana single-handedly placed the flag to prove that this area belongs to Guyana. Photograph: Roberto Cisneros/AFP/NTP
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He warns: – We do not want war

– We do not want or need a war in South America. This is what Brazilian President Lula da Silva also said at the Mercosur summit last week.

Lula also warned Maduro against taking “unilateral measures” that would escalate the border conflict. The Brazilian president’s office said this happened during a phone call on Saturday.

Lula also conveyed the growing unrest among other Latin American countries and called for negotiations to resolve the conflict, the president’s office said.

The presidents of the two countries, Nicolas Maduro and Mohamed Irfaan Ali, are scheduled to meet for talks next Thursday. This was announced by the prime ministers of the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, which is hosting the meeting, NTB wrote.

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Jabori Obasanjo

Jabori Obasanjo

"Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer."

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