For newly oil-rich Guyana, this weekend will be a fateful one, with rumors that Venezuela is gathering forces to invade at the close of a referendum on the ownership of Essequibo, a disputed region that represents two-thirds of Guyana’s total territory.
Residents of Essequibo are frozen in a state of uncertainty. Rumors have not been verified, and those circulating in the media claim to be based on Brazilian intelligence. What is clear is that Guyana has become a point of political capital for the Maduro regime, and the question now is whether he will risk the temporary sanctions relief handed down by Washington to go after the hottest new oil play of in decades. Brazil has also bolstered security at its northern border ahead of the referendum.
Keep an eye on events later on Friday when the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is due to decide on Guyana’s request for certain measures to prevent the Sunday referendum from taking place. Of course, the ICJ cannot stop the referendum from going forward. Guyana’s request is intended to get something down on paper that would prevent Venezuela from seizing Essequibo with any legal backing.
On the domestic political front, after rumors began circulating in earnest on Wednesday of an imminent invasion, Venezuelan lawmaker Jacobo Torres said his country would not go to war with Guyana. Venezuela’s opposition, including 2024 presidential election candidate Maria Corina Machado, has called for…