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Antigua and Barbuda may want to refrain from taking sides in the conflict between Venezuela and Guyana as it may not be in the country’s best interest.
Today, Venezuelans are voting in a referendum to decide whether the country should establish its state within a large part of Guyana that is rich in oil.
Guyana has condemned this move as a step towards annexation and raised concerns about a possible military conflict between the two South American nations.
Being an unbiased mediator is the most beneficial approach since Twin Island has had friendly relations with Venezuela and Guyana.
Although Antigua and Barbuda is part of the Caricom position that calls on Venezuela to respect international law and to maintain hemispheric prace and solidarity, the country had not taken a national position
The Essequibo region, which amounts to about two-thirds of Guyana’s national territory and is the size of Florida, is at the center of the dispute.
Venezuela has argued that it was within its borders during the Spanish colonial period and has long claimed the land, while Guyana disputes this claim and refers to an 1899 ruling that set the current boundaries when Guyana was still a British colony.
The recent discovery of vast offshore oil fields in the area has increased the stakes of the dispute.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has portrayed the referendum as a manifestation of anti-imperialist sentiment and argued that Venezuela’s historical rights to the region have been unfairly disregarded.
Guyana has warned that the threat of annexation is “existential.”
The referendum poses several questions to voters, including whether they support creating a new state in the Essequibo region, giving its inhabitants Venezuelan citizenship, and “incorporating that state into the map of Venezuelan territory.”