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Venezuelan president visits U.N. to discuss Guyana border dispute

By Andrew V. Pestano
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Venezuelan president visits U.N. to discuss Guyana border dispute
President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro met with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday to discuss a recent territorial dispute between Venezuela and Guyana. Photo courtesy of Nicolás Maduro/Twitter

NEW YORK, July 30 (UPI) -- President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro visited the headquarters of the United Nations in New York, N.Y., to meet with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to discuss a recent territorial dispute with Guyana.

Maduro said he "explained in detail and synthetically" to Ki-moon on Tuesday the details of the "historical process of dispossession" in which neighboring Guyana has allegeldy taken Venezuelan territory, adding that the meeting was "very fruitful."

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In May, Maduro issued a decree arguing that Venezuela's territory includes the Atlantic waters off Guyana's Essequibo Coast, as part of a territorial dispute dating back to the 19th century. Exxon Mobil Corp. recently announced a discovery of 295 feet of high-quality oil-bearing sandstone with further potential in the Essequibo region.

Maduro insisted his visit to the U.N. was only to discuss the issue of the Essequibo, as he avoided questions about recent tensions with Spain.

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Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez requested for the U.N.'s assistance to resolve the dispute with Guyana on July 10.

The Venezuelan ambassador to Guyana, Reyna Margarita Arratia, was recalled earlier this month for consultation over the disputes.

"Venezuela is coming under new forms of assault and aggression," Maduro said when he announced the ambassador recall. "This is a grave, dangerous situation that we must combat with national unity."

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CARICOM, an organization of 15 Caribbean nations, rejected Maduro's decree and sided with Guyana.

President of Guyana David Granger said he was "not surprised" by Maduro's recall of the ambassador, "because [Maduro] has been confronted with rejection of his decree by the entire Caribbean community so he is just increasing the isolation of his government from the region."

Nearly all CARICOM members benefit from Venezuela's oil-rich industry, causing the recent disputes to remain tempered.

Maduro rejected the idea of a military resolution to the territorial conflict, stating that Venezuela's "diplomacy is the diplomacy of peace."

The Essequibo, a region of about 64,000 square miles, accounts for about two-thirds of Guyana's land. Venezuela is accused of attempting to intimidate Guyana as to give into territorial demands.

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