Guyana warns Venezuela over bound­aries


Ten­sions soared in Guyana Satur­day, af­ter Venezuela de­clared its ter­ri­to­rial seas re-drawn to in­clude an off­shore area where a ma­jor oil de­posit has been found.

Neigh­bor­ing Venezuela al­ready claims two thirds of Guyana’s ter­ri­tory, from its eastern bor­der over to the Esse­quibo River, in what has be­come Latin Amer­ica’s largest ter­ri­to­rial dis­pute.

Cara­cas also pre­vi­ously has en­gaged in dis­putes over ter­ri­to­rial seas with its South Amer­i­can neigh­bors, since they too ul­ti­mately set out who is en­ti­tled to de­ter­mine the fate of what min­eral wealth is there.

Now For­eign Min­is­ter Carl Greenidge said he was pre­par­ing to sum­mon Venezuela’s am­bas­sador to ask her why Cara­cas has fur­ther ex­tended its mar­itime bound­ary to in­clude an off­shore area pre­cisely where a U.S. oil gi­ant, granted a con­ces­sion by Guyana, re­cently found a huge oil de­posit.

“We shall be call­ing in the coun­try’s am­bas­sador to ex­plain its mean­ing, and to voice our con­cern about this es­ca­la­tion of a long-run­ning at­tempt to achieve by ques­tion­able means, what Venezuela has so far failed to achieve by in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­cepted legal and diplo­matic ap­proaches,” Greenidge told AFP.

Ef­forts to con­tact the Venezue­lan Am­bas­sador to Guyana, Reina Mar­garita Ar­ra­tia Diaz, were not im­me­di­ately suc­cess­ful.

The Guyanese For­eign Min­is­ter said his Min­istry was ex­am­in­ing the con­tents of a May 27, 2015 edi­tion of Venezuela’s Of­fi­cial Gazette that states the co­or­di­nates of what is pur­port­edly an ex­ten­sion of its mar­itime bound­ary with Guyana.

Guyana Army Stud­ies Venezuela Es­ca­la­tion

The Head of the Guyana De­fense Force, Bri­gadier Mark Phillips would only say that the mil­i­tary and civil­ian au­thor­i­ties were study­ing the de­cree by Venezuela’s Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro.

“That mat­ter is be­ing stud­ied by now. It is be­ing stud­ied by the For­eign Af­fairs, it is be­ing stud­ied by ev­ery­one, all the main ac­tors in­clud­ing the mil­i­tary. Every­body is pay­ing at­ten­tion to it,” he told AFP.

For­mer Guyanase Am­bas­sador to Venezuela Odeen Ish­mael said Cara­cas’ lat­est de­cree claims all the ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters within the 200 mile range and so blocks Guyana’s ac­cess to re­sources in that area of the At­lantic Ocean.

Un­like a first de­cree is­sued by Venezue­lan Pres­i­dent Raul Leoni in July 1968 that pur­port­edly claims sovereignty over a 12-mile strip of Guyana’s con­ti­nen­tal shelf along the Esse­quibo Coast, this de­cree by Maduro takes in an oil-rich con­ces­sion that Guyana has granted to U.S. oil gi­ant Exxon Mo­bil.

Prior to Exxon- Mo­bil’s an­nounce­ment last month that it had found a “sig­nif­i­cant” oil de­posit, Venezuela had twice writ­ten to the Guyanese sub­sidiary of that com­pany warn­ing it against con­tin­u­ing the search for oil be­cause that mar­itime area and the en­tire Esse­quibo Re­gion — the land area from Venezuela east to the Esse­quibo River — were part of its ter­ri­tory.

Back in Septem­ber 2013, Venezuela’s Navy in­ter­cepted and ar­rested a seis­mic ves­sel that had been con­duct­ing tests in an off­shore con­ces­sion that Guyana granted to a Texas-head­quar­tered com­pany, Anadarko Petroleum Cor­po­ra­tion.

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