Venezuela voters reject ICJ jurisdiction amid territorial dispute with Guyana News
Marco Farouk Basir, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Venezuela voters reject ICJ jurisdiction amid territorial dispute with Guyana

The citizens of Venezuela voted Sunday to support a claim of sovereignty over the Essequibo region, endorsing the move to assert control over the disputed, oil-rich area, which comprises two-thirds of Guyana, rejecting the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) jurisdiction and supporting the creation of the Guyana Esquiba state, which would be incorporated into Venezuelan territory.

The long-standing dispute over the region came to a head in October when Guyana requested provisional measures with the ICJ, asserting that the referendum was a ploy by the Venezuelan government to “abandon” the proceedings and an attempt to use “unilateral measures to ‘resolve’ the controversy with Guyana by formally annexing and integrating into Venezuela all of the territory at issue.”

The referendum in Venezuela comes two days after the ICJ responded to Guyana’s request and ordered Venezuela to refrain from taking any actions that might alter the current situation in the disputed territory. The court also directed both parties to not take any actions to make the dispute more difficult to resolve. This didn’t include an explicit order to cancel the referendum and the vote went ahead as planned on Sunday.

Voters were asked five questions, primarily seeking their endorsement of Venezuela’s claim over the region, as well as the rejection of the jurisdiction of the ICJ, opposition to Guyana’s use of the offshore area and support for the Essequibo region becoming a Venezuelan state. According to the head of the National Electoral Council, Elvis Amoroso, more than 10 million votes had been counted. However, there is some controversy over whether this figure referred to the number of the questions answered or the number of voters. 

There has been some concern over the implementation of the results, with Rocío San Miguel, the President of Citizen Control for Security, Defense and the National Armed Forces stating that “It remains to be determined whether Venezuela will completely abandon defending the case before the ICJ or will continue to attend the hearings.”