MOSCOW, December 6. /TASS/. Venezuela will be subjected to external pressure and receive no support from its allies on the continent, if it opts for military annexation of the Essequibo region disputed with Guyana, Tatiana Rusakova, a senior researcher at the Institute of Latin America of the Russian Academy of Sciences, has told TASS.
Earlier, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro suggested passing a law on the Bolivarian Republic's sovereignty over the disputed territory of Guyana-Essequibo. This decision was preceded by a referendum, in which about 95% of those who voted supported the creation of the state of Guyana-Essequibo and its inclusion in Venezuela.
"Another factor not in favor of a military conflict is that international support is not on Caracas' side. This is a long-standing dispute. The sympathies of the main players, even Cuba, which has always supported Venezuela, and all integration blocs are on the side of Georgetown. Maduro’s idea of declaring Essequibo as the 24th state does not meet with understanding even among longtime allies," the expert said.
Rusakova pointed out that in case of a military conflict, Nicaragua would remain the only supporter of Venezuela on the continent. "The country's President Daniel Ortega openly states that the referendum was conducted absolutely correctly and that Venezuela has absolutely all rights to Essequibo," she explained.
Rusakova recalled that in October representatives of the Venezuelan leadership and the opposition at the talks in the capital of Barbados concluded an agreement on the resumption of a dialogue and the organization of the electoral process in the Bolivarian Republic in 2024. In response to the agreement on holding "transparent, democratic elections with the participation of international observers," the US eased a series of sanctions against Venezuela's oil and gas, gold mining and financial sectors for six months.
"If what Nicolas Maduro is proposing begins to be implemented, all the sanctions lifted as a result of the Barbados agreements will instantly be reintroduced," Rusakova said. "It is clear that sanctions work not as an instrument of political pressure, but as slow economic strangulation, with ordinary people being hit the worst. This will lead to new waves of migration from Venezuela."
The expert also pointed out that the existing internal problems were very likely to prevent Venezuela from conducting successful combat operations. "If the conflict moves towards the hot phase, it is likely to have a negative impact on Venezuela," she emphasized.
At the same time, Rusakova expressed the certainty that a diplomatic solution to the territorial dispute remained possible. "There have been no prolonged wars in the region simply because there are very strong traditions of resolving conflicts there without resorting to extreme measures. We would like to believe there will be a peace settlement of the Essequibo issue," the expert added.
"However, it should be remembered that as a result of a diplomatic settlement, one of the parties will inevitably lose and feel deprived. Most likely, Guyana will appeal to international organizations, including the UN, where the relevant lawsuit has already been sent. It is difficult to make an unambiguous forecast about how the situation will develop," she concluded.
The dispute between Venezuela and Guyana over the 159,500 square kilometers of territory west of the Essequibo River, called Guyana-Essequibo, has been smoldering for more than 100 years. The territory makes up more than two-thirds of Guyana and is home to 283,000 people of the country’s 800,000-strong population.
The territorial dispute flared up with renewed force following the discovery in 2015 of oil fields containing at least 10 billion barrels of oil and Guyana's decision to grant a concession to ExxonMobil for offshore oil production within no boundaries drawn.
In April, the UN International Court of Justice declared admissible for consideration Guyana's claim against Venezuela for the demarcation of the border between them on the basis of a ruling the court of arbitration pronounced in Paris in 1899, when, under pressure from London, 90% of the disputed territory was transferred on the basis of forged maps to its colony, British Guyana. Venezuela, which recognizes Guyana-Essequibo as its legitimate territory, believes that the conflict is not subject to the jurisdiction of the UN International Court of Justice and insists on demarcation of the borders by means of direct negotiations with Guyana, which is stipulated by the Geneva Agreement of 1966.