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US planning military base in disputed territory – Venezuela

Washington wants to take control of oil resources in the contested Guayana Esequiba area, Caracas’ foreign minister says

Essequibo River in the disputed Guayana Esequiba territory. ©  AFP / Patrick Fort

Washington is looking to set up a military base in the Guayana Esequiba area, which is contested between Venezuela and Guyana, the Venezuelan foreign minister has claimed.

In a speech to the UN General Assembly on Saturday, Yvan Gil said the US considers itself “the sovereign” of Latin America, and is now intervening in the more than 200-year-old territorial dispute between Caracas and Georgetown.

“The US government seeks to appropriate our oil resources by using the company Exxon Mobil, which has incorporated the government of Guyana into its ranks,” he said.

Guayana Esequiba is rich in oil and gas, especially in offshore areas. In recent years, exploration in the disputed territory has been dominated by an Exxon-led consortium, which has received a drilling license from Georgetown. Last week, Guyana held another offshore oil bidding round, receiving applications from Exxon Mobil, TotalEnergies and other firms.

Guyana is acting “in total violation of international law” by granting those oil permits, the Venezuelan diplomat said. “Unilateral disposal of a disputed territory isn’t permissible, but the government of Guyana persists in its illegal conduct,” he insisted.

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According to Gil, Washington “intends to militarize the situation” in Guayana Esequiba.

“The [US] Southern Command seeks to establish a military base in the contested territory, with the aim of creating a spearhead in its aggression against Venezuela and consolidating the plunder of our energy resources,” he claimed.

Gill announced that earlier this week Venezuela’s National Assembly had “unanimously decided to call our people to vote in a consultative referendum to ratify the defense of our sovereign territory against the aggression of the American empire, which wants to lead us to a war for natural resources.” He did not say when exactly the vote would be held, or reveal any other details.

Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali insisted on Wednesday that his country reserves the right “to pursue economic development activities in any portion of its sovereign territory or any appurtenant maritime territories.” The territorial feud between Georgetown and Caracas is set to be contested in the International Court of Justice (ICJ), after the ICJ ruled in April that it has jurisdiction over the matter.

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Earlier this week, US Deputy Secretary of State Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian Nichols reiterated Washington’s support for Georgetown’s claim on Guayana Esequiba, saying it is “Guyana’s sovereign right to develop its own natural resources.”

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