Four things to know about Venezuela’s referendum on oil-rich Guyana region : Analysis

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Venezuela to Hold Referendum on Disputed Territory with Guyana

Venezuela is preparing to hold a referendum on Sunday to decide whether to establish a new state in a disputed territory known as Guayana Esequiba, which is rich in oil and has long been ruled by Guyana. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) previously urged Venezuela to refrain from taking any actions that could alter the status quo in the region. Although the ICJ did not specifically ban Venezuela from holding the referendum, Guyana had requested such an action.

This move comes amidst an ongoing border dispute between the two countries. In April, the ICJ acknowledged its jurisdiction over the case but projected that a final ruling could take several years.

Here are some key points to understand about the upcoming referendum and the dispute:

– The Venezuelan government will pose five questions to its citizens during the referendum. These questions include whether they approve of creating the state of Guayana Esequiba in the Essequibo region, granting Venezuelan citizenship and identity cards to the region’s population, and incorporating the state into Venezuela’s territory.
– There are concerns that the referendum could serve as a pretext for Venezuela to seize the disputed territory. Guyana’s representative to the ICJ, Paul Reichler, described it as a textbook example of annexation.
– The Venezuelan government has not provided details on how it would establish the new state if approved, and the referendum is considered consultative.
– The ICJ has highlighted the serious risk of Venezuela gaining control and administration of the disputed territory.
– Political analysts expect the proposal to be approved, given the absence of a “no” campaign and the likelihood that opponents will abstain from voting.
– Venezuela claims sovereignty over the Essequibo region, citing its historical inclusion within its boundaries during the Spanish colony.
– Guyana insists on maintaining the border established by an arbitration panel in Paris in 1899. Guyana argues that Venezuela agreed to this ruling but later changed its position in 1962.
– Venezuela argues that the Essequibo River serves as a natural border and has been recognized as such since 1777. It dismisses the 1889 ruling, claiming that the United States and Europe conspired against Venezuela and asserting that a 1966 agreement nullified the original arbitration. Guyana maintains that the initial accord remains legally binding.
– Tensions between the two nations escalated in 2015 due to oil exploration operations by ExxonMobil and other companies in offshore areas overlapping with the disputed territory.
– Venezuela contends that Guyana lacks the right to grant concessions in the maritime areas of Essequibo.
– The disputed territory, known as “The Essequibo,” is larger than Greece and constitutes over two-thirds of Guyana’s territory. It is home to 125,000 of Guyana’s 800,000 citizens.
– The area spans 159,500 square kilometers (61,600 square miles) and is located within the Guiana Shield, one of the last remaining pristine tropical forests in the world. It is abundant in natural and mineral resources, including substantial reserves of gold, copper, diamond, iron, aluminum, and more.
– The region also possesses the world’s largest reserves of crude oil per capita. Recent discoveries, along with existing reserves of at least 10 billion barrels, are expected to elevate Guyana as a leading global crude producer by 2025, surpassing Venezuela.
– ExxonMobil, along with its partners Hess Corp (US) and CNOOC (China), are currently the only active oil producers in Guyana. Their projects are anticipated to reach a daily output of 1.2 million barrels by 2027, making Guyana one of Latin America’s prominent oil producers, only trailing Brazil and Mexico.
– Brazil, which closely interacts with Guyana, expressed concern over the situation. The US, which maintains a strong relationship with Guyana, appealed for a peaceful resolution to the dispute.
– Analyst Rocio San Miguel of the Citizen Watchdog on Security, Defense, and the Armed Forces highlighted that while Venezuela possesses a more robust military than Guyana, it would be challenged by Guyana’s allies, including the US.


The article provides an informative overview of the upcoming referendum in Venezuela and the border dispute with Guyana. It includes details of the ICJ’s stance, the historical context, the arguments from both parties, and the potential implications of the referendum. However, several aspects should be considered when evaluating the reliability and potential biases of the article.

Credibility of Sources:
The article cites sources such as the International Court of Justice, Venezuelan and Guyanese officials, and an analyst from the Citizen Watchdog on Security, Defense, and the Armed Forces. These sources carry some authority in their respective fields, lending credibility to the information presented.

Presentation of Facts:
The article provides a good overview of the situation, explaining the key points surrounding the referendum and the border dispute. It also highlights the historical context, various arguments, and potential consequences of the referendum. The article’s factual presentation helps readers gain a basic understanding of the topic.

Potential Biases:
The article appears relatively balanced and presents information from multiple perspectives. However, it is worth noting that the article does not include direct quotes or statements from Venezuela’s government or its representatives. This omission may limit the overall perspective presented.

Impact and Misinformation:
The article does not contain any obvious misinformation. However, it should be noted that geopolitical issues like border disputes can be complex and sensitive, with various historical, cultural, and political factors at play. Therefore, readers should seek additional sources and perspectives to gain a comprehensive understanding of the topic.

Political Landscape and Fake News Influence:
Given the political landscape and the prevalence of fake news, there is potential for actors with vested interests to exploit this situation. In the context of border disputes, fake news and misinformation campaigns could be used to inflame tensions, manipulate public opinion, or advance particular political agendas. Readers should be cautious and critically evaluate the information they encounter.

Overall Reliability and Nuanced Understanding:
The article provides a generally reliable overview of the upcoming referendum and the border dispute between Venezuela and Guyana. It presents information from various sources and offers a balanced perspective. However, due to the complexity of the issue, readers should delve deeper and consult a range of sources to gain a more nuanced understanding of the topic.

Source: Aljazeera news: Venezuela holds referendum on oil-rich Guyana region: Four things to know

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