CARACAS, December 6. /TASS/. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered at a meeting of the federal government’s General Assembly on Tuesday that all schools and universities display an updated map of the country showing the incorporation of its newest, 24th, state, Guayana Esequiba.
"We are beginning publishing and distributing in all schools, colleges and universities across the country a new map that reflects the decision made on Sunday," the president said, holding up a copy of the updated map with the new Venezuelan state marked.
On Tuesday, Maduro urged the National Assembly to pass a law establishing the state of Guayana Esequiba as a constituent part of Venezuela based on the results of an advisory referendum held on December 3. He also announced the creation of the Guayana Esequiba Integral Defense Zone. The Venezuelan president approved a social service plan for the region’s residents and the issuance of Venezuelan ID cards to local residents.
The head of state instructed state oil-and-gas company PDVSA and the Venezuelan Corporation of Guyana (CVG) to establish relevant branches in Guayana Esequiba and issue licenses for the extraction of oil, gas and minerals. He established a deadline of three months to cease oil production at non-delimited sections of the sea shelf under licenses issued to foreign companies by the government of Guyana.
Following Maduro’s decision, Guyanese President Mohamed Irfaan Ali accused the Venezuelan government of violating the principles of international law and asserted that he intended to appeal to the UN Security Council to settle the dispute.
Venezuela and Guyana have been at odds over a 159,500-square-kilometer area west of the Essequibo River for more than 100 years. The territory, known as Guayana Esequiba, makes up more than two-thirds of Guyana’s territory and is home to 283,000 of the country’s population of little more than 800,000 residents.
The dispute escalated in 2015, when oil fields estimated to hold at least 10 bln barrels were discovered in the area and Guyana granted a concession to ExxonMobil for the development of oil fields on the non-delimited shelf. In September, seven more transnational companies, including China National Offshore Oil Corporation, QatarEnergy and TotalEnergies, were granted shelf development licenses by the Guyanese government.