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Venezuelans Vote To Authorize Take-Over of Oil-Rich Region of Neighboring Guyana

Venezuelans Vote To Authorize Take-Over of Oil-Rich Region of Neighboring Guyana

A low-turnout vote in Venezuela to annex the region likely means that war isn’t coming to the Venezuela – Guyana border yet. But it is certainly another area to watch in 2024.

This Sunday, a small number of Venezuelans went to the polls to approve a referendum called by the government of President Nicolás Maduro to claim sovereignty over a resource-rich area of neighboring Guyana, arguing that the region was stolen when the border was drawn more than a century ago.

The National Electoral Council claimed to have counted more than 10.5 million votes even though few voters could be seen at polling sites throughout the voting period for the five-question referendum. The council, however, did not explain whether the number of votes was equivalent to each voter or if it was the sum of each individual answer.

Venezuelan voters were asked whether they support establishing a state in the disputed territory, known as Essequibo, granting citizenship to current and future area residents and rejecting the jurisdiction of the United Nations’ top court in settling the disagreement between the South American countries.

The origins stem from both nations’ once being part of the vast Spanish colonial empire. Here is where it gets interesting for American history buffs: Settling the border in its current location resulted from President Grover Cleveland using the Monroe Doctrine.

In 1841 Venezuela disputed the British delineation, claiming territorial delineations established at the time of their independence from Spain. Venezuela claimed its borders extended as far east as the Essequibo River—an effective claim on two-thirds of British Guiana’s territory. When gold was discovered in the disputed territory, Great Britain sought to further extend its reach, claiming an additional 33,000 square miles west of the Schomburgk Line, an area where gold had been discovered. In 1876 Venezuela protested and appealed to the United States for assistance, citing the Monroe Doctrine as justification for U.S. involvement. For the next 19 years Venezuela repeatedly petitioned for U.S. assistance, calling on its neighbor to the north to intervene by either sponsoring arbitration or intervening with force. The United States responded by expressing concern, but did little to facilitate a resolution.

In 1895, invoking the Monroe Doctrine, newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State Richard Olney sent a strongly-worded note to British Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary Lord Salisbury, demanding that the British submit the boundary dispute to arbitration. Salisbury response was that the Monroe Doctrine had no validity as international law. The United States found that response unacceptable and in December 1895, President Grover Cleveland asked Congress for authorization to appoint a boundary commission, proposing that the commission’s findings be enforced “by every means.” Congress passed the measure unanimously and talk of war with Great Britain began to circulate in the U.S. press.

Great Britain, under pressure in South Africa with the Boers and managing an empire that spanned the globe, could ill afford another conflict. Lord Salisbury’s government submitted the dispute to the American boundary commission and said nothing else of the Monroe Doctrine.

The dispute was ultimately decided in Guyana’s favor, which brings us to today.

It is conjectured this “vote” was a campaign stunt for Maduro, which got out of control. Maduro is unpopular, and this was intended as a move to rally support for his government.

Christopher Sabatini, a senior fellow for Latin America at the London-based foreign policy think tank Chatham House, told VOA that the referendum in Venezuela had all the hallmarks of a publicity stunt that got out of control, and which now threatens to degenerate into serious conflict.

“This was mostly for domestic consumption, but basically, the Maduro government has pulled the trigger on something and we don’t know where it’s going to go,” Sabatini told VOA.
…. With a new election scheduled for 2024, the Essequibo referendum was seen as an effort to galvanize voters behind the government.

Now, despite evidence of poor turnout and low voter engagement with the referendum, Sabatini said, the Maduro government is doubling down.

Maduro struck out in 3 ways in his attempt to annex the oil-rich region owned by Guyana.

Strike 1: The vote backfired, showing low voter enthusiasm for the takeover.

The government of Guyana has breathed a sigh of relief after a referendum intended to rubber-stamp Venezuela’s claim to about two-thirds of the tiny South American country’s territory appeared to have backfired.

Nicolás Maduro had hoped to leverage his country’s century-long claim to the disputed Essequibo region to mobilise public support but voting stations across the country were largely quiet on Sunday as most voters shunned the issue.

The turnout appeared so underwhelming that the Venezuelan government has been widely accused by analysts of falsifying the result.

Strike 2
: Guyana is having none of it.

On Monday, Vice-President Bharrat Jagdeo said that Guyana would remain vigilant after a Venezuelan referendum rejected an international court’s jurisdiction over a territorial dispute between neighboring countries.

“The leadership in Guyana cannot just take assurances from the Maduro government that they will not invade the country,” Jagdeo told local media in an interview from Dubai, where he is attending the Conference of the Parties (COP28) climate summit. “We have to be prepared for any eventuality.”

“We have to be very vigilant in this upcoming period because the Venezuelan leadership has shown itself to be very unpredictable,” Jagdeo said, urging Guyanese to remain calm and saying the country has ramped up defense coordination with allies.

Strike 3: The United Nations’ top court ordered Venezuela to stop any action that would alter Guyana’s control over a disputed territory. {Though it is hard to say how effective this threat is).

While war does not appear to be coming to the Venezuela – Guyana border yet, it is undoubtedly a potential hot spot to watch in 2024.


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They voted. How democratic.

    AF_Chief_Master_Sgt in reply to Whitewall. | December 5, 2023 at 8:47 am

    Yep. They voted like two wolves voting against a lamb as to what they were having for dinner.

    Concise in reply to Whitewall. | December 5, 2023 at 10:18 am

    I was about to mock their version of “voting,” but that would be a little hypocritical in light of our new and improved post-Covid electoral system.

      Danny in reply to Concise. | December 5, 2023 at 10:46 am

      You mean a man who went from winning a state by under 1% one year lost it by under 1% another?

      What I find interesting is in PA people who decided to spit on PA voters by informing them “F YOU!!!!” instead of working to regain their votes lost.

      It is time to move into reality and win some elections instead of sacrificing future elections to pretending Biden lost 2020.

        nordic prince in reply to Danny. | December 5, 2023 at 11:12 am

        …pretending Biden lost won 2020…


        alaskabob in reply to Danny. | December 5, 2023 at 12:06 pm

        Yes… with a little help from friends in Philly , in Pittsburgh and from Zuckerberg. Fellow traveler or useful idiot… inconsequential.

        Concise in reply to Danny. | December 5, 2023 at 2:51 pm

        What I find interesting is that even France has abandoned mail in ballots due to concerns over fraud, yet jurisdictions in this country have embraced the concept, and at the same implementing harvesting and drop boxes that multiply the already vast propensity for fraud.

      walls in reply to Concise. | December 5, 2023 at 5:04 pm

      We’re quickly heading toward the new 3rd world voting rules, brought to you by big tech, big media, and big gubmint

    thalesofmiletus in reply to Whitewall. | December 5, 2023 at 11:56 am

    Hey, once you determine the “general will”, you can act like a continental tyrant to execute it!

Sure. Why not? On his last watch Putin took Crimes.

    CincyJan in reply to Arminius. | December 6, 2023 at 5:59 am

    And the Obama administration said nothing. Now Biden has sent how much to the Ukraine over trge past three years??? Just keeps adding to the national debt, ’cause they can always print more money.

I hate autocorrect. Crimea. Crime mee uhh.

    CommoChief in reply to Arminius. | December 5, 2023 at 8:49 am

    Kind of like the Spanish/American War. Manufacture the conditions of a crisis and use those conditions take valuable strategic territory and increase local hegemony; Puerto Rico, Philippines, Guam not to mention annexation of Hawaii during the conflict.

      93% hawaiians voted to become state. Although there was never vote taken, Philippinos often say there was overwhelming sentiment to follow Hawaii into statehood, except the US couldn’t agree. Guam other Pacific territories can vote anytime to end their territorial status, but don’t’ because they actually find it advantageous. Same Puerto Rico. Maybe there could be benefits to having US passport. But that might not fit an oversimplified oppressor and oppressed narrative. Shouldn’t you be getting high and watching re-runs of south park and obsessing over some monument?

        CommoChief in reply to smooth. | December 5, 2023 at 11:16 am

        Nice series of straw man arguments. I didn’t argue that any of those places didn’t benefit from acquisition by the USA nor did I argue that the majority people in those places at the time or are now opposed to US acquisition.

        ‘Fraid I don’t drink or use drugs nor am I close to being worried about monuments, other than to oppose their removal or vandalism so no dice with those ad hominem attacks. In fact I believe history is important. It is critical, IMO, to maintain a non jingoistic approach to most topics but especially history and economics.

        The point here is that every Nation acquired territory from weaker neighbors. This is especially so for buffer areas between Great Powers or areas viewed by a more powerful neighbor as of vital or strategic importance.

        By and large the USA is a historical anomaly in that we have mostly tried to live up to the aspirational ideals of our Founding Documents. Morse so than any other the USA is the good guy on the world stage but that doesn’t mean we haven’t engaged in real politic or refused to use force much less threaten force to achieve our own strategic goals.

        The neocons will be delighted to keep your seemingly unwavering support for their military industrial complex. As will the rest of the deep state who depend upon unflinching jingoism of the ‘Mericuh crowd.

AF_Chief_Master_Sgt | December 5, 2023 at 8:58 am

Funny how Biden got s”elected” and now the world is on fire. A man who for 50 plus years made incorrect decisions on foreign policy in nearly every instance is now responsible for … wait for it… foreign policy.

China is making overtures for Taiwan. This has been a fact for decades, except now, the fecklessness of this administration puts Taiwan in jeopardy similar to South Korea in September 1950.

Russia invades Ukraine with the tacit approval of Biden “as long as it wasn’t an invasion.”

Our border are a sieve with military age men illegally invading our country with Biden’s approval. Men from countries rife with terrorism.

The Middle East is on fire and Biden gives Iran access to billions of dollars, so terrorists can invade Israel.

Islamofascists of military age are invading Europe under the guise of “refugees.” And like the blue helmets of the UN forces, begin to rape and pillage.

Yep. “We didn’t start the fire.”

Biden did. Intentionally or unintentionally.

    Biden will go down in history as the worst president puppet of Obama’s Syndicate.

    It is a stunning coincidence isn’t it? He can’t really be blamed on this one, though. I was reading about it and the history last weekend. It has been brewing for a long time. Considering Venezuela has vast oil reserves already the est. 11 Billion in Guyana is not the point. Keeping Maduro in power is. He has vowed to hold elections soon and will lose so nothing better than a war which result in his calling off the election due to a “national emergency” and remain in power

      AF_Chief_Master_Sgt in reply to diver64. | December 5, 2023 at 9:59 pm

      While your points are valid, I still believe Biden was the impetus for Maduro’s actions.

      A president with a set of balls would makeMaduro think twice before make overtures unilaterally.

      Joe Buy Them is a milquetoast idiot who can’t control his natural body functions, let alone corral an over zealous tyrant.

        Could be but although the US has had a military relationship with Guyana for some years I don’t think there has ever been an actual treaty between the nations. I think your right in Biden doing nothing if Venezuela invades. He will have a hissy in the UN and that will be that.

Sure. Why not.. I can and probably should write a book about how I can show my face in the Philippines and the Japanese can’t

Filipino nationalists lamented the fact the Americans werent evil enough to generate real hatred

    smooth in reply to Arminius. | December 5, 2023 at 10:25 am

    Philippinos often say the spanish left behind christianity, the americans left behind an education system, the japanese left behind a mess.

      diver64 in reply to smooth. | December 5, 2023 at 3:45 pm

      Despite what the MSM might have us think, Phillippnos have a positive view of not only Americans but America. I’ve gotten nothing but good interactions there the times I’ve been in and out of uniform. The current trouble with China is clarifying some thinking, too. Brandon is missing a golden opportunity that Trump really got going in unifying Japan, Philippines, South Korea, India etc into a strong counter to China in the region

I already have the subtitle. Green Cats and Blue Dragons.

Do you think this may be a first…the first time dictator held a ‘vote’ to invade a neighboring country? I can’t think of any other examples.

    AF_Chief_Master_Sgt in reply to TargaGTS. | December 5, 2023 at 10:16 am

    Well, the United States recently had an election where the number of “votes” are questionable.

    I am sure that Joe Buy Them got 81 million votes, but I am not sure that 81 million people voted for him.

    Tyranny comes in the guise of legitimacy. Even foreign invasions in South America.

      The number of votes were not questionable. Your narrative is giving Democrats election after election.

        CommoChief in reply to Danny. | December 5, 2023 at 11:23 am


        There seems to be some uncertainty about the composition of the voter rolls in several States which refuse to remove the dead and those who departed for another State. If the voter rolls are comprised that’s a problem. Couple that with wholesale ignoring of election security and ballot integrity measures in those same States. Then add in mass mail out of ballots in some of these States to every registered voter. That’s a whole lot of room being deliberately created which have vast potential for shenanigans.

        alaskabob in reply to Danny. | December 5, 2023 at 12:10 pm

        The number of voters is questionable. Obvious problems in swing states… even teh California State Supreme Court ruled, after the election, that Newsom EOs were unconstitutional but remained in place.

        retiredcantbefired in reply to Danny. | December 5, 2023 at 3:19 pm

        Exactly what Danny wants: Democrats in power, as far as the eye can see.

        AF_Chief_Master_Sgt in reply to Danny. | December 5, 2023 at 10:01 pm

        Fûck off

    henrybowman in reply to TargaGTS. | December 5, 2023 at 12:38 pm

    Well, maybe not a popular vote. But I’m sure there have been plenty of historical instances of dictators and emperors charging councils, cabinets, senates, legislatures, etc. to vote on wars.

    diver64 in reply to TargaGTS. | December 5, 2023 at 3:47 pm

    Did Castro have a vote to invade Angola? I’m not sure but don’t think so?

Stumbling mumbling biden, international symbol of weakness. That window of opportunity is wide open for tyrants and terrorists.

Gulf war I all over again?

    More like dementia joe will say there is uncertainty about how to respond to a minor incursion. While ramping up oil imports from venezuela.

Venezuela can’t seem to pump the oil they already possess. Is this a plan to reduce the available oil in to world?

I’m guessing Guyana didn’t get a vote?

The United States has never been a colonizer, but I would argue that it should become one now:

Conquer the island of Cuba, and then send all of our Leftists/Marxists/socialists there.

If Venezuela goes in they might in for a fun experience.. That region is mostly virgin jungle with few roads and the roads couldn’t take heavy military traffic. Venezuela supposedly has some nice military toys but who knows how many work and the fancy tanks would be stuck to the roads and destroy them in short order.

Perhaps if and when Maduro’s forces invade Guyana, they might discover some left over Kool-aid in Jonestown. Maduro may then want to confirm the idea that Kool-aid improves with age.

Maybe we can all vote on taking over Venezuela some day

This could be a good opportunity to change the government of Venezuela. Just make sure that Venezuela is defeated when they attack Guyana.

    markm in reply to ConradCA. | December 8, 2023 at 3:16 pm

    There’s one inaccuracy in this article: “The origins stem from both nations’ once being part of the vast Spanish colonial empire.”

    No. Guyana was never part of the Spanish empire. They often sailed by, but never established a colony. The Dutch established colonies on BOTH banks of the Essequibo River and on the lower Cuyuni River. Then Napoleon’s army conquered the Netherlands, the government fled England, and pretty soon the colonies were signed over to the British.

    Now, the Brits seem to have tried to pull a fast one – the boundary line they drew for British Guiana included not only the entire Cuyuni River basin, but even the mouth of the Orinoco. Late in the 19th Century, Venezuela protested this. The US didn’t want British warships and troops in South America enforcing the UK’s cockeyed view of the boundary line, so they suggested an international tribunal. This tribunal rejected both the British line and the even more ridiculous Venezuelan claim. Their line left the Orinoco river and the upper Cuyuni basin to Venezuela, and the parts that had been settled by Dutch and British colonists to Guyana.

    Now Venezuela is claiming more than half of Guyana, including the entire Cuyuni basin and everything west of the Essequibo. No, those weren’t Spanish claims backed up by any kind of settlement; they were Dutch and then British claims, backed up by actually sending people to live there. They should never be taken seriously. If we had a President fit to be commander-in-chief, I’d suggest a private message to Maduro to say that any attack on Guyana would be followed by a Venezuelan regime change by cruise missile.