Maduro Orders Resource Exploitation in Essequibo

Maduro, Oil

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has directed state-owned enterprises to begin immediate exploration and exploitation of oil, gas, and minerals in Guyana’s Essequibo region. This area, larger than Greece and abundant in resources, is a subject of territorial claim by Venezuela.

Mineral Rights, Sell Mineral RightsThis directive follows Maduro’s declaration of victory in a recent referendum aimed at asserting Venezuelan sovereignty over Essequibo. In his announcement, Maduro emphasized the swift initiation of licensing for the exploration and exploitation of natural resources in Essequibo, encompassing oil, gas, and mining activities. Additionally, he has ordered the establishment of local branches of prominent Venezuelan public firms, including the oil behemoth PDVSA and the mining giant Corporación Venezolana de Guayana, in the disputed territory.

The referendum, held on Sunday and backed by Maduro, has been a point of contention, with Venezuela asserting historical claims to the region, which makes up two-thirds of Guyana. However, the legitimacy of the vote and its implications are under scrutiny. Guyana views the referendum as an attempt at annexation and has voiced significant concerns over the move.

Guyana’s stance has been to challenge this claim, turning to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for resolution. The ICJ recently issued an order restraining Venezuela from any actions that might alter the current status until a decision is made on the territorial dispute – a process that could span several years.

Reports indicate a low voter turnout for the referendum across Venezuela, casting doubts on the credibility of the process. Analysts and observers have suggested possible result manipulation by the Venezuelan government, given the apparent lack of voter engagement.

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The referendum’s outcome and the muted response from the Venezuelan populace have been interpreted by Guyana’s foreign secretary and government sources as a clear message to Maduro, hinting at a general disapproval of his policies regarding Essequibo. This development adds a new layer of complexity to the longstanding territorial dispute between Venezuela and Guyana, impacting regional dynamics and international diplomatic relations.

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