By Nicholas Elden
Diplomatic tension between Venezuela and Guyana dates back to the origin of the Guyanese state. Although Venezuela towers over Guyana in both size and military stature, the clash between the two nations has restarted upon the recent discovery of oil sources in the waters near Guyana’s borders. In response to the Venezuelan claim to the newly found oil fields, as well as recent military border aggression, Guyana President David Granger has been speaking out against the aggression and ‘bullying’ his nation experienced, Reuters reports.
Venezuela has long contested the 1899 arbitration case that awarded Guyana, then a British colony, the disputed property. After a letter circulated in 1949 that accused two of the four judges of collusion, Venezuela denounced the 1899 decision and demanded that the territory be returned, even after Guyana gained independence in 1966. In response to the continued contention, President Maduro met with President Granger in September in an attempt to restore relations, but without avail.
According to World Oil Magazine, Exxon Mobil is in the pre-planning stage of the Liza oil discovery project in Guyana. Matthew Jurecky, the head of oil and gas research and consulting at GlobalData, a research and consulting firm, has stated, “The Liza project will also be well-placed to benefit from any uplift in oil prices post-development. Its commercial success could redefine the basin as a global deep-water production player.”
Last fall, the pressure to claim oil fields discovered around the border of Guyana escalated. President Maduro accused of President Granger of being a slave to the Exxon Mobil corporation. The citizens of Guyana remain proud in their nation through the strife and continue to raise their national flag throughout the capital of Georgetown.
President Maduro recently claimed in an interview with Telesur that “Venezuela is now the imperialist country. We are the country that had something taken away from us. That land was not given to us as a gift by the British Empire or the Spanish Empire. Our grandfathers won it fighting on the battlefield. It is sacred ground.”
This reinforced nationalism among Venezuela’s population raises tensions. In Venezuela, maps regularly label the disputed borders as the “Reclamation Zone.”
Damon Gerard Corrie, Sovereign Chief of the Pan-Tribal Confederacy of Indigenous Tribal Nations, explained on the organization’s website, “The Caribbean community must know that they could never stop a Venezuelan military solution to the dispute.”
Corrie argued that neither the United States or the United Kingdom would intervene in a border war between the two states because of global influences.
As reported by the Jamaica Observer, President Granger said at the CARICOM Summit that Venezuela’s actions reflect “a persistence of aggressive behavior, hostile towards Guyana.” Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino issued a rebuttal the following week to “call on the people of Venezuela to stay calm because we’re seriously preparing ourselves.”
The hostility between these two states spans a century and Exxon Mobil’s oil findings increase tension drastically as the two fight over their claims to the wealth.