President of Guyana Preparing to Defend Country from Venezuela

( – Venezuela’s authoritarian president, Nicolás Maduro, is once again up for reelection. He recently announced plans to annex part of a neighboring nation. The president of that country has now declared he will defend his country from the South American dictator.

On December 5, Maduro shared a new map of Venezuela. The startling outline included Guyana’s disputed 61,000-square-mile Esequibo region, which accounts for about three-quarters of the neighboring nation. He claimed that he was going to create the Venezuelan state of Guyana Esequiba, license the state metal conglomerate CVG and the oil company PDVSA to drill for oil in the region. He also said he intended to give the energy companies that are already there 90 days to leave, according to reporting by The Washington Post.

“The world has to know […] the Esequibo is ours,” Maduro declared.

Guyana President Irfaan Ali spoke to The Associated Press about the threat from Venezuela, saying he is taking it “very seriously.” He said the country is taking “precautionary measures to ensure the peace and stability” of the region. Additionally, the Guyana Defense Force has reportedly consulted with other nations to help.

Ali would not say which countries he spoke to but said the “region will have to respond” if Venezuela carries out its “reckless and adventurous” scheme. He explained that he is “building a regional response.”

The United Nations issued a statement referring to a ruling by the International Court of Justice that prohibited either country from taking action in the region. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the international alliance “strongly support[s] the use of solely peaceful means to settle international disputes.” Maduro’s government rejected the UN’s position, saying it doesn’t recognize the International Court of Justice’s jurisdiction.

While the countries went back and forth, the US held military exercises on December 7. The US Embassy in Guyana said the US Southern Command was conducting the exercises “[i]n collaboration with the Guyana Defense Force.”

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