Guyana's President, Dr Irfaan Ali on Tuesday night condemned Venezuela's declaration of sovereignty over the Essequibo region of Guyana earlier in the evening and asserted his government's intention to rebuff any attempt by the Venezuelan Government to exercise any such jurisdiction.
The Guyana President, in a national address, also outlined steps that will be immediately taken to secure Guyana's territorial rights, including the mobilisation of the military and alerting relevant international agencies and partners, including the United Nations Security Council as well as fellow CARICOM states and countries such as the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom and France.
Following Sunday's indicative referendum on the issue in Venezuela on Sunday, December 3, in which the majority reportedly voted in favour of annexation of the Guyanese territory, President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday made an official declaration that the disputed territory is now part of Venezuela and authorized the commencement of oil exploration there.
The Maduro regime also released a new map, purportedly of Venezuela, which includes all of Guyana's Esequiba region.
Dr Ali, in his response to Tuesday's development, said it constituted "blatant disregard of the order given by the International Court of Justice on December 1st, 2023."
"Guyana views this as an imminent threat to its territorial integrity, and will intensify precautionary measures to safeguard its territory," he declared.
It was on October 23, 2023, one month after passage of a Resolution by the Venezuelan National Assembly, that the government of President Nicolas Maduro announced that a five-part referendum
would be held on December 3, to among other things, decide whether to reject the 1899 arbitral award, which confirmed that the Essequibo region was part of Guyana, then under British colonial rule.
The voters were also asked to repudiate the jurisdiction of the International Court of Criminal Justice’s (ICJ) in the matter, and support the creation of a new state encompassing more than 50 per cent of Guyana’s current landmass and more than two-thirds of its national territory, to be called Guayana Esequiba.
Reiterating his warning prior to the referendum, that this was "a direct threat to Guyana's territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence, and in violation of fundamental principles of international law enshrined in the UN and OAS charters," Dr Ali disclosed that he had spoken to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and several national leaders, alerting them of Tuesday's "dangerous development."
Furthermore, he said, Guyana will bring this matter to the attention of the UN Security Council on Wednesday morning, "for appropriate action to be taken by that body."
Contact had also been made with CARICOM, the OAS, the Commonwealth and various bilateral partners, he added.