“We have heard lies and manipulations. Guyana never ceases to amaze us. (Not only) are they heirs of a territory that the United Kingdom stole from Venezuela (in reference to Essequibo), but they also inherited that lineage of imperialist and colonialist arrogance. Pretend that the people of Venezuela do not vote on December 3 in an attempt to turn the International Court of Justice (ICJ) into an instrument.” Delcy Rodríguez has transferred the usual Bolivarian verbiage to The Hague, where he has been able to go despite the European sanctions renewed for six months, to defend the position of the government of Nicolás Maduro in its dispute with neighboring Guyana.

The ICJ must decide on Georgetown’s request to paralyze the referendum proposed by Maduro on Essequibo, a tool with which he also intends to increase support in his country (he only has the support of 15% of Venezuelans) against the Hurricane María Corina Machado, new leader of the opposition.

For 20 years, Chavismo forgot the old national claim over the 160,000 square kilometers east of the Essequibo River, in whose maritime area an enormous oil reserve has been found, more than 15,000 million barrels of black gold. Fidel Castro’s alliance with Guyana and the support of Caribbean countries in international organizations outweighed the national claim for 20 years.

The government of Guyana considers the referendum as an “existential threat” for a poor country that is currently experiencing an economic awakening thanks to the findings of the oil company Exxon Mobil. The Essequibo occupies two thirds of Guyana’s territory. In his arguments before the ICJ he has expressed his concern about Venezuela’s imminent withdrawal from the court and the military invasion of the disputed territory.

“The Bolivarian National Armed Forces, with Constitution in hand, are calling on our people to vote this December 3, the government of Guyana sees that as a threat,” the vice president apologized at the end of the hearing. Rodríguez has accused the president of Guyana, Irfaan Ali, of dressing as a soldier and carrying out military exercises with the United States, an extension of the “war drums” alluded to by herself.

Venezuelan troops have not only moved to the vicinity of the disputed area, they have also built a landing strip in addition to repeating the threats of their generals against Georgetown. It has also been reported from Caracas that the US intends to build a military base in that territory, something that has been denied by the Guyanese government.

Not only does Guyana have the firm support of Washington, neighboring Brazil has also announced its military collaboration with Irfaan Ali. Both the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Caribbean community support Georgetown in its defense.

With the call for the referendum, accompanied by military agitation reminiscent of the Malvinas crisis, Maduro intends to kill several birds with one stone, including causing confusion among the opposition ranks. Machado has insisted that “sovereignty is not voted on, it is exercised,” although other leaders, such as Henrique Capriles, have already announced that they are going to vote.

In a statement, the Democratic Unitary Platform called on Venezuelans to each one, “using their free will”, analyze and decide on the five questions of the consultation.

“The questions of the referendum for Essequibo are innocuous, inconsequential and do not contribute to the strategy to recover the disputed territory. What then does this process contribute? Absolutely nothing. Mass participation or abstention does not affect the constitutional duty of defense of the territory “explained former prosecutor Zair Mundaray, currently exiled in Colombia.

With only 700,000 inhabitants, small Guyana has become an object of global envy. Last year the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 62% and it is expected that until the end of the decade it will maintain an increase of 25% each year. In 2027 it will reach one million barrels per day, when Venezuela currently moves around 700,000.

The great miracle that has turned Guyana into the fastest growing country in the world when it was the second poorest country on the continent began to take shape with the discovery of ExxonMobil under the waters of the country in the Atlantic Ocean, a gigantic bag of black gold of 5.5 billion barrels.