San Francisco: Venezuela is recalling its ambassador to Guyana in the latest move of the territorial dispute between the neighbouring South American nations.
Although the dispute has long existed it has had new potency since the discovery of oil in Guyana’s offshore waters, prompting hostile talk from Venezuela, the larger nation.
President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, said the ambassador was being recalled for consultations. He has ruled out military action but said there may be a reduction in Venezuela’s embassy size and has ordered his country’s foreign ministry to conduct a full review of bilateral relations.
The main region in dispute is known as the Essequibo and has been contested since the 19th century. The recent oil discoveries came in waters off of Essequibo.
In May Maduro issued a decree claiming the Atlantic waters off Essequibo as Venezuelan. In June Venezuela insisted Guyana and Exxon Mobil should halt exploration there, just weeks after Exxon found oil.
CARICOM, an organisation of 15 Caribbean nations, has rejected Maduro’s decree and backed Guyana. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last Friday offered to help resolve the dispute.
Exxon says its policy is to follow host countries’ and international law, and that border conflicts are a matter for governments to resolve.