Photo: Guyana Ministry of Foreign Affairs, retrieved

The long dispute between Guyana and Venezuela for the Esequibo entered a brand new stage last week: The Guyanese government formally requested the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague to take over the case and settle this for once and for all.

In late January, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recommended this course of action after the efforts by his personal representative, Dag Nylander, ended without “significant progress”. He opened the door to a “complementary process” based on the powers of his office.

The Venezuelan Government rejected Guyana’s move, saying:

…resorting to the judicial settlement to resolve such dispute is unacceptable, unfruitful and unenforceable, given that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela does not recognize the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice as binding, and in this framework, Venezuela has always been consistent with its historical position of expressly reserving or not signing any international legal instrument containing arbitration clauses that may grant compulsory jurisdiction to such Court.

Right after Guterres’ announcement, Georgetown firmly supported the idea and, since then, it’s been lawyering up, slowly building their case (even in public opinion).

Guyanese Foreign Ministry, Carl Greenidge, is confident enough that the ICJ will admit their case. His Venezuelan counterpart, Jorge Arreaza, insisted in January that going to the ICJ is not the way to solve the dispute, which got heated again after the discovery of substantial oil reserves in Esequibo waters by ExxonMobil. In February, a new major discovery there was announced and ExxonMobil has already committed to start oil production in Guyana by March of 2020.

Here comes the 64,000 lochas question: does Guyana have a case? Mariano de Alba tackled the real possibilities in a recent piece for Prodavinci, indicating that the Co-operative Republic has done the homework that the B.R.of V. has not.

But hold on, dear readers. This case isn’t expected to be decided for years. Right now, the ICJ is hearing the historic sea access case between Bolivia and Chile, and with other cases waiting, it could take a while. And only if Guyana’s request is admitted. 

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  1. How long will it take the Bolivarian Armed Forces to march and take the Esequibo by force? Asking for a friend.

      • Exactly. It will take spot light away from the mire…
        I have another question. Who is going to hand out CLAP boxes while Operacion Bravo Bolivar is taking place?

    • They could occupy it fairly quickly. But they won’t. A military move against Guayana would very likely be the straw that broke the camel’s back, and would invite the foreign intervention that most of Latin America would like to see anyway.

      Guayana has timed this move well.

      • I think that foreign intervention is exactly what the Chavistas want. It is their out.

        1. March into the Essiquibo. “For the Glory of the Fatherland!”
        2. Devil Dogs land in Playa Punta La Cruz or some other nice beach two weeks later
        3. Maduro/Vlad/Delcy runs for Cuba… howling endlessly about colonialism.
        4. US gets involved in “nation building” (again) for ingrates. TRILLIONS of dollars pissed away… you have heard the rest of the story hundreds of times….

        And in the end, the Essiquibo question will be settled (again) as the NEW government of Venezuela will finally ratify the borders (again) only to have the next Leftist despot bitch about the land stolen by the Yanquis and threaten to invade….

        repeat ad nauseum.

  2. Maduro prefers it be settled in a manner befitting the Gloriousness von das Vaterland!

    Ooops. Slipped out of character there. I had a Sudetenland flashback

    Auf Wiedersehen und viel Glück!

  3. Where do most Venezuelans sit on this issue?

    From the perspective of the United States, I wish Puerto Rico would outright secede from the United States and become part of any other country they want. (They seem to have a lot in common with Cuba right now) Or independent. So long as they go.

      • I thought this has already been settled, that Congress gave them the green light to vote and do what they want. But annexation to another country isn’t feasible.

        And statehood, Congress hasn’t approved. Only independence or maintaining current status.

        • I think it has been voted on three times already… Independence or Status Quo. They keep voting for Status Quo.

          In their current status, they get all of the federal benefits, but don’t have to pay income tax. I don’t know who is the boneheaded politicion who allowed that to happen, but he should be flogged. So, now, to get the U.S. out of that mess, someone is going to have to kick them out of the house and force them to get a job. Anyone want to volunteer? Donald?

          • And corporations used to get great tax benefits there. I think it was considered an FTZ, free trade zone, for American companies shipping to the Caribbean, Central and South America, and beyond, when you consider the Canal.

            I don’t remember who stripped them of that classification, why, the politics behind it, etc.

          • Guess I am somewhat the resident expert.
            Been 5 Statehood votes and the 1st 4 basically 50-50 with Status Quo v. Statehood (Each time Independence drew 2-4%).
            The Last was 95% statehood (with the no vote being boycotted) – that was July last year.
            The big Status Quo issue is that they “fear” losing their language and culture, and NOT as Roy suggests that there is some grand benefit in Taxes. That is just plain bullshit.

            Since they are a commonwealth they have NO representation in Congress beside advocates, and our government really does treat Puerto Ricans as 2nd class citizens. But really for no other reason than they are voteless. As an example, Rhode Island (who pays the US government LESS federal Taxes – Sorry Roy – Wrong again), has 2 Senators that can barter there vote for goodies. No Senators, no “if you vote for my goodies, I will vote for your goodies. That is how our system works many times.

            As to PR “getting all the federal benefits” Roy, you might want to read before you type. They pay the US Govt far more than they receive.

            As to Hurricane Maria. No State, would accept the US Response to date. But again, no vote, no voice. Americans be damned.

            FYI, The island is still a disaster. For perspective, it is 35 miles wide and 100 miles long, and Maria travelled virtually down the center, with an eye wall of 30 miles. We took video out our apartment in San Juan at 6am when it hit land in the S.E. and the winds and rain were crazy unbelievable. At noon, it passed San Juan, and at 6pm it exited. 12 hours of destruction, and it “missed” San Juan.

            Lastly, one other FACTOID, that is the most unbelievable of all.
            As a US citizen, born in the land of Fruits and Nuts (California for those not in the know), I can move to Russia, China or Cuba, for that matter and VOTE for President. IF I MOVE TO Puerto Rico (and have) I CAN NOT VOTE.

          • @ Dale: American families pay $22 billion per year to maintain Puerto Rico

            Source: Economist Arthur Laffer and PR businessman Alexander Odishelidze Pay to the Order of Puerto Rico, (2004)

            That being said, I think Puerto Ricans are getting screwed over by the tax situation there. The tax benefits of the big pharmaceutical companies aren’t benefiting the populace. Part of that is corporate greed (the very reason they have such a huge presence in PR), but the lions share is that the PR electeds are poor stewards of the wealth they do control.

            There are a lot of variables and reasons for why things are so screwed up (culture, educational opportunities, etc), but the fact is that PR doesn’t pay in more than it receives.

    • This being said from a land thats only redeeming feature is the few months it is not iced over.
      Oh yeah, they were nice enough to give the Lakers to us Angelenos.

      So ElGuapo, what is your beef with Puerto Rico? and the comment about Cuba?

      Your google maps been hacked?

      • No problem with Puerto Ricans. The ones I have met are fabulous.

        The problem is the island is ungovernable. Apparently, they like it that way. The political leanings of the usual voter are just to the right of Castros, so I’m under the the impression that they should quit suckling at the teat of the US taxpayer and give Marxist/Leninism a go.

        As my granny used to say, “if you don’t leave, I can’t miss you.” I’m pretty sure the rest of the US won’t miss PR*… but I know they would rue the day they left the US.

        PR wants all of the benefits of being a part of the US and none of the responsibilities. I have a lot of relatives who are like that. We call them Democrats.

        BTW, the cold weather in Minnesota? It keeps the riff raff out. Which is why the TV show COPS is rarely recorded here… too cold for the criminal element to wander around without shoes and shirts. We just got 12″ of snow two days ago and expecting another dumping on Saturday. Currently in tropical southern Minnesota, its 17 Fahrenheit and 25 mph winds! Come and visit!


        *Except for US manufacturers who LOVE PR. The tax structure is pretty good.

        • I live there (most of the time), and disagree with most you say. Believe me I argue until I am blue in the face about Statehood, and the argument is always about culture and language – Not taxes.
          Puerto Ricans pay a pretty hefty tax bill already, so to pay to the US govt instead of the Hacienda here – whats the diff? The argument of PR getting massively more than they receive can be argued, as factors such as the Jones act, and not getting supplimental MC etc are often left out of the equation.

          BUT, if this is a benchmark, then you and others should be all for getting rid of 20 states, like New Mexico, Mississipp, Alabama, etc that pay $1 and get $2 to $3 back.
          As to those Tax incentives to MFG – Bush took those away 10+ years ago
          remember no vote for my goodies, no vote for yours.

          Re: MN – funny guy – Thanks for the Lakers !!

  4. Like the author says: this will be tied up in courts for years…

    Nevertheless, this is interesting news. Trump pulling out of Syria. That is, Trump gives Russia Central Asia, and then the USA comes back to control their own back yard. Classic German Pan Region Geopolotics. That is, the USA controls the Western Hemisphere and has a green light to take out Venezuela and Cuba. Russia and China gets Central Asia. And Europe is caught in between but allied to the USA (in the modern concept).

    Nevertheless, pay attention to the geopolitical shifts going on right now and pay attention to what is going on in the smokey rooms behind closed doors.

  5. Venezuela is at a its moment of greatest international weaknes, it has basically no friends in the hemisphere or europe , it has isolated itself as a country controlled by a ruffian regime…..and is in desperate need of maintaining good relations with its wavering caricom allies ( of which Guyana is part) …it has no money with which to pay of the heavy cost of any kind of military intervention . It booted out Exxon which if still in Venezuela might have provided some leverage vis a vis Guayana ……, !! This is not going to go down well with people who still feel some patriotic attachement to the claim …..

  6. BTW:

    I know that every Venezuelan since the early sixties grew up believing in arepas, the Vinotinto, that Malta actually tastes good, and that Venezuela’s claim to the Essequibo is solid…

    But, if you study the real history of the claim, you would see that it is really weak. Sorry chamos… that stripey part on the map isn’t really part of Venezuela. Your politicians have been manipulating you and your nationalistic passions since long before Chavez.

    • As a Venezuelan, I’ve always found the whole Esequibo thing ridiculous.

      It was a hot topic in La Cuarta, and adecos and copeyanos used to “debate” on what they would do to get it back. Ridiculous.

  7. The background on the Essequibo… how so they spin it in Venezuelan history classes? Is it about national pride? Do they teach that over half of another country “really” belongs to Venezuela because… what? Spain claimed it after the Dutch had it but before the Brits had it before Bolivar claimed independence?

    My understanding of the issue is that Venezuela and the United States went up against the United Kingdom on the issue of these borders. Due to “backroom political double dealing” (is there any other kind?) between the UK and Russia, the arbitrators awarded the Essequibo to Guyana… a lose from the Venezuelan perspective but a win for the Monroe Doctrine.

    • Elguapo,

      The original claim by the British was far larger. It went all the way west to the Orinoco and beyond. When the U.S. got involved, they were able to get the baby cut in half instead of losing all of it. It was a good deal for Venezuela which, at the time was too weak to defend it’s own claims.

      In any case, the settlement was accepted by everyone without reservation for 60 years!

  8. …resorting to the judicial settlement to resolve such dispute is unacceptabe, unfruitful and unenforceable, given that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela does not recognize the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice as binding.

    What a surprise. The Chavistas don’t recognize any authority but their own. How’s that worked out for them so far?


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