Published: 30th of October, 2016 by Patrick CarpenLast updated: November 22, 2023 at 22:53 pm
The county of Essequibo encompasses approximately 290,000 people in 700 villages and communities, the majestic Kaieteur Falls – the world’s highest single-drop waterfall – and most of Guyana’s precious mineral resources to boot. It includes the Rupununi Savannahs which span thousands of acres of virtually untouched plains, rain-forested mountains, Amerindian villages and rare wildlife–one of the brightest jewels in Guyana’s tourism crown. The Essequibo is everything west of the mighty Essequibo River all the way to the border with Venezuela.
Guyana’s ownership of the Essequibo is always under constant threat of usurpation by our Western neighbor, Venezuela, which has long maintained that it has a legitimate claim to all territory east of Venezuela up to the Essequibo River. There is a ubiquitous slogan in Venezuela that rings out, “the Venezuelan sun rises in the Essequibo.”
The bitter dispute has its roots in border lines drawn up by former colonial powers. While Guyana accepts an 1899 tribunal ruling, Venezuela insists the process was flawed by political collusion, doubling down on its claim over the entire Essequibo county.
While the Guyanese government has referred the case to the International Court of Justice, President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, maintains that Venezuela will not attend the hearing because they believe the ICJ does not have jurisdiction over the matter. Venezuela has often said it prefers the route of the UN’s Good Offices process – diplomatic discussions involving a third party acceptable to both sides.
On the 6th of April, 2023, the International Court of Justice dismissed Venezuela’s preliminary objection. The case will is now proceeding amidst threat of annexation by Venezuela. The Court’s Ruling, which will most likely be in favor of Guyana, will make it illegal for Venezuela to annex the Essequibo. However, Venezuela has maintained that it will not respect the ruling of the ICJ since it asserts that the ICJ does not have jurisdiction over the case.
Only time can reveal the fate of Cinderella county, the pearl of the nation, but, as the patriotic Guyanese song rings out of the mouth of every Guyanese, “we ain’t givin up no mountain, we ain’t giving up no tree, we ain’t givin up no river, that belongs to we….”