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Nicolás Maduro accused the US of having “secret bases” in Essequibo

Nicolás Maduro accused the US of having “secret bases” in Essequibo

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday accused the United States of establishing “secret bases” in the disputed territory of Essequibo in Guyana. According to him, these platforms are designed to “prepare aggressions (…) against the people of the south and east of Venezuela and prepare an extremism against Venezuela”.

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Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday, April 3, condemned the establishment of “secret military bases” by the United States in Essequibo, an oil-rich region administered by neighboring Guyana and claimed by Caracas.

He announced that “we have verified information that secret (US) Southern Command military bases, Southern Command cells and CIA cells have been set up” in Essequibo, which is “provisionally administered by Guyana”.

These sites, according to Nicolás Maduro, are designed to “prepare aggressions (…) against the people of the south and east of Venezuela and prepare an extremism against Venezuela”. “President Irfan (Ali) does not rule Guyana, Guyana is governed by the Southern Command (of the United States), the CIA and ExxonMobil,” Nicolás Maduro asserted.

Act was enacted

On Wednesday, the Venezuelan president also announced a law, adopted at the end of March, that affirms Venezuela's sovereignty over the Essequibo. Nicolás Maduro wrote after a referendum organized in December on annexing the disputed region. The law designates the territory as a new state of Venezuela governed from the city of Tumeremo, located in the Venezuelan state of Bolivar.

Guyana, after adopting the law, said it was “gravely concerned” and considered it a “flagrant violation of (its) sovereignty”.

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An area of ​​160,000 km2 Rich in oil and natural resources, Essequibo has been at the center of heightened tensions between the two countries since Guyana launched oil deals in the region in September, prompting Venezuela to hold its referendum. This resulted in an “overwhelming success” (96.33%) on the question of integrating the region with Venezuela.

Aerial view of the Essequibo region, September 24, 2022 © Patrick Castle, AFP (Archives)

About 125,000 people, or one-fifth of Guyana's population, live in Essequibo, which covers two-thirds of the country's land area. Venezuela maintains that the Essequibo River should be the natural border, as it was in 1777 during the Spanish Empire. Guyana, for its part, asserts that the boundary dates back to English colonial times, as recognized by an arbitral tribunal in Paris in 1899.

With AFP