In light of Venezuela’s persistence in going ahead with its December 3 referendum over the Essequibo region, Guyana has been given assurance by its regional and international partners to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
This is according to President Dr Irfaan Ali this afternoon. The Head of State said that while they expect Venezuela to act responsibly, if the Spanish-speaking nation fails to do so then the Guyana Government has been working on contingency plans.
“We believe that Venezuela would not act in a reckless way. However, if they do act in a reckless way, we have already, as I said before, engaged our strategic partners. We have engaged [through] the Chief of Staff and the senior commander, are continuously engaged with partners across the region and of course, extra regionally. And we are assured that Guyana’s territorial integrity and sovereignty will not see our development partners standing aside and allowing anyone to take advantage of us.”
“Outside of that, we are also sparing no effort in ensuring that we continue to enhance and strengthen our capability because we have a responsibility to do so,” the president added.
However, when asked, the Head of State opted not to elaborate on the strategy and the depth or fullness of what that support from its partners constitutes.
Over the past few weeks, Guyana has been informing regional and international partners of Venezuela’s planned referendum that is set for December 3, 2023, over its claim of the Essequibo region.
On September 21, 2023, Venezuela’s National Assembly passed a resolution calling for a referendum regarding Venezuela’s unsubstantiated claim to two-thirds of Guyana’s territory in the Essequibo. Subsequently, the Venezuelan National Electoral Council last month published a list of five questions that it plans to put before the Venezuelan people. The referendum will seek the Venezuelan people’s approval to, among other things, annex Guyana’s territory in the Essequibo and create a Venezuelan state. This particular question (#5) also seeks the citizens’ approval for Venezuela to grant citizenship and identity cards to residents of Essequibo.
This referendum has been criticised by the United States, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Commonwealth of Nations, and the Organization of American States (OAS), as well as several other nations in the Region, including Brazil, which borders both Guyana and Venezuela.
There is consensus that Venezuela’s referendum and heightened aggression against Guyana will threaten the peace, security, and stability of the Region.