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The Border Controversy: An On-Going Conflict

The Guyana-Venezuela Border Controversy Venezuela's claim to its shared border with Guyana has been causing tension between the two countries for over a century. An effort has been made in the past to settle the dispute, but none were successful, including an 1899 arbitration and the Treaty of Geneva of 1966, signed by Great Britain and the governments of Guyana and Venezuela. Regardless, Venezuela continues to claim the border area of Essequibo.

The Guyana-Venezuela Border Controversy

Guyana and Venezuela Border Dispute Guyana and Venezuela have continually disputed their shared border. The controversy dates as far back as 1895 during the colonial rule of Guyana and long before independence. Previously, Venezuela claimed more than 50% of the British Colony of Guyana, but an 1899 arbitration placated the dispute. In 1962 Venezuela later challenged the arbitration, declaring they would no longer abide by the 1899 agreement. A border commission established in 1966 with representatives from Venezuela, Guyana and Great Britain failed to reach a deal. At the time of Guyana's 1966 independence, Venezuela raised the issue once again and since that time, continues to claim the Essequibo. In 1967, Venezuela moved to block Guyana’s bid to join the Organization of American States (OAS). Following that, Venezuela started a failed uprising in the disputed area of Essequibo. Under diplomatic pressure, Venezuela agreed to a 12-year moratorium on the conflict in 1970. Over the proceeding years, both countries have faced a dramatic change in both government and developments and the relationship between the two nations improved so far that in 1990 Venezuela sponsored Guyana's bid for Organization of American States (OAS) membership.

Recent Events The recent discovery of oil off the coast of Guyana has again caused tension to rise between the two countries. The announced discovery led Venezuela to reiterate its land claims, now extending them into the sea. Venezuela's claims to Essequibo, in total, account for over 40% of Guyana’s current territory. If these claims are realized, Guyana would effectively be left landlocked. Currently, trade between the two countries has ceased, Venezuela no long imports Guyanese rice, Guyana no longer purchases oil from Venezuela, and military exercises on both sides of the border have increased. The United Nation is working to solve the crisis before it escalates, most recently attempting to broker a deal between Guyana’s President David Granger and Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro. Results to date have not been positive. President David Granger expressed to the United Nation General Assembly in New York how Venezuela's claims have profoundly affected his country. President Granger added that Venezuela's territorial claims have scared investors away from Guyana and is affecting the country economically.

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