CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelans are voting Sunday in a referendum that is expected to decide the future of vast swathes of neighboring Guyana that their government claims, leaving the northern and southern borders in the same place for more than 100 years. They claim that this territory was stolen during the invasion. Before.
Guyana sees the referendum as a step toward annexation, and residents are nervous about voting. The content of this document is to provide Venezuelans with a mandate to establish a state in the disputed territory known as Essequibo, grant citizenship to current and future residents of the area, and provide the United Nations’ highest authority to resolve differences between the two South American countries. It asks whether you support denying the court’s jurisdiction.
“We are trying to resolve 150 years of imperial deprivation through constitutional, peaceful and democratic means,” President Nicolas Maduro said after the vote at a military complex in the capital, Caracas.
The International Court of Justice on Friday ordered Venezuela not to take any action to change Guyana’s control of Essequibo, but the justices did not specifically bar officials from holding Sunday’s five-question referendum. Guyana had asked the court to order Venezuela to suspend part of the vote.
The legal and practical implications of the referendum remain unclear. However, in comments explaining Friday’s ruling, the International Court of Justice’s President, Joan E. Donahue, said that the Venezuelan government’s statements were clear that the Venezuelan government had “taken steps aimed at gaining control and control of the disputed territory.” This suggests that there is.
“Additionally, Venezuelan military officials announced that Venezuela is taking concrete steps to construct an airstrip that will serve as a “logistical support point for the integral development of Essequibo.” .
The 61,600-square-mile (159,500-square-kilometer) territory covers two-thirds of Guyana and also shares a border with Brazil, but the Ministry of Defense said in a statement earlier this week that it would “intensify defensive actions” and protect Guyana. It said it was strengthening its military presence in the country. Areas that have arisen as a result of conflict.
Essequibo is larger than Greece and rich in minerals. It would also give it access to the Atlantic region, where commercial quantities of oil were discovered in 2015 and attracted the attention of Maduro’s government.
The Venezuelan government has been promoting the referendum for weeks, framing participation as a show of patriotism, often confusing it with a show of support for Maduro. The government held a mock referendum last month but did not announce the number of participants or the results.
Venezuela has always considered Essequibo to be its own territory, as the area was within Venezuela’s borders during the Spanish colonial period, and the border was determined by an international arbitrator in 1899, when Guyana was still a British colony. This has been debated for many years.
The boundaries were determined by arbitrators from Britain, Russia, and the United States. The United States participated in the commission on behalf of Venezuela, partly because the Venezuelan government had severed diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom.
Venezuelan officials claim that Americans and Europeans conspired to defraud their country of its territory, and argue that a 1966 agreement to settle the dispute effectively nullifies the original arbitration. There is.
GuyanaIndia, the only English-speaking country in South America, argued that the original agreement was legal and binding and asked the International Court of Justice to make such a ruling in 2018, but the ruling It will be many years before it comes out.
Voters on Sunday will decide whether they “agree to reject by all means consistent with law” the 1899 boundary and support the 1966 agreement “as the only valid legal means” to reach a solution. will be asked.
President Maduro and his allies are calling on voters to answer “yes” to all five questions in the referendum.
Associated Press reporter García Cano reported from Mexico City.