Security & Strategic Review - January 2024

Risk of Venezuela-Guyana war decreases after emergency summit

There were initial fears that an historic dispute between Venezuela and Guyana could escalate into military conflict following a 3 December Venezuelan referendum in which voters expressed support for the annexation of the oil-rich Essequibo region, which is claimed by Venezuela but lies within Guyana’s internationally recognised borders. One month later, the diplomatic situation remains tense but appears to be stabilising. Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro has signed an agreement with his Guyanese counterpart, Irfaan Ali, to avoid military conflict. The general consensus is that Maduro’s referendum was aimed at whipping up support from nationalist voters ahead of the Venezuelan presidential election later this year, rather than being a prelude to an invasion.

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