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Venezuela Officially Annexes Disputed Territory as ICJ Decides Ownership

A session of Venezuela’s Parliament in Caracas. Shutterstock
A session of Venezuela’s Parliament in Caracas. Shutterstock

Venezuelan lawmakers on Thursday approved the creation of its 24th state in a contested area east of the country. The legislative action comes as voters in the South American nation overwhelmingly approved a December referendum to do so.

The new domain, Guayana Esequiba, has been internationally recognized as being part of neighboring Guyana for more than a century.

Venezuela has long claimed that the land in question was formed from a colonial-era encroachment that occurred when the British took possession of what was then a Dutch protectorate.

The disputed area in question. 5wpress.com

Since November, the International Court of Justice has been attempting to mediate the bi-national border disagreement. Officials in Caracas have maintained that Venezuela does not recognize the jurisdiction of the Netherlands-based judicial body.

If the disputed area ever became part of Venezuela, the result would be an effective annexation of two-thirds of Guyana’s territory.

The two countries agreed at a December meeting in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to maintain a peaceful composure until the matter is settled. This consensus has not prevented Brazil, the United States, and the United Kingdom from engaging in military exercises in the region to show solidarity with the government in Georgetown.

Observers have pointed out that the Maduro regime's interest in controlling the 62,000 square-mile Esequibo region is primarily driven by the 2013 discovery of offshore oil reserves in the surrounding continental shelf.

Related Story: Venezuela Arrested Opposition Politicians Amid Oil Standoff with Guyana, Accusing Them of a “Transnational Conspiracy”

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