Guyana again rejects Venezuelan claims to its territory


GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) — Venezuela’s socialist government and its opposition have agreed on at least one thing: Both claim that most of the neighboring nation of Guyana should be part of Venezuela.

Guyana’s government on Wednesday formally denounced the accord signed this week by Venezuelan negotiators who are trying to find a way out of their nation’s political impasse. It called the agreement “an overt threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Guyana.”

“Guyana cannot be used as an altar of sacrifice for settlement of Venezuela’s internal political differences,” it said. “While the government of Guyana welcomes domestic accord within Venezuela, an agreement defying international law and process is not a basis for mediating harmony.”

The Venezuelan negotiators held the first of what are expected to be several rounds of talks in Mexico over the weekend and reached only vague agreements on finding some way to help Venezuelans meet their needs and fight the coronavirus pandemic.

But they did sign a pact reasserting Venezuela’s claim to about two thirds of what is now Guyana.

Venezuelan governments have long rejected an 1899 demarcation of the border by an international tribunal that had included the US, Britain and Russia. Guyana has taken the issue to the World Court in The Netherlands, but Venezuela has said it will not recognize any ruling by that body.

The issue has become more tense since 2015, when oil companies found large deposits of oil and gas in waters claimed by both nations. In 2019, a Venezuelan military helicopter tried to land on a vessel operated by ExxonMobil that was conducting surveys off Guyana’s coast.

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