What’s really at stake in the Venezuela-Guyana land dispute? (commentary)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has deployed military troops, light tanks, missile-equipped patrol boats, and armored carriers to the Guyanese border in what appears to be a brazen threat to claim two-thirds of the smaller country’s national territory by force, according to a recent report. Despite a written agreement in December between Maduro and Guyanese President Irfaan Ali denouncing the use of force, Venezuela’s military deployment signals a departure from that agreement. It has the potential to escalate tensions further. This development happened days after Exxon Mobil announced its intention to continue oil exploration in the offshore territory contested by Venezuela. We are Guyanese citizens, and as such, we stand in solidarity with the Guyanese government and reject any foreign claim on this land. We are also Indigenous peoples, and it is important to acknowledge that for our ancestors, all colonial borders were arbitrary at the time of their occurrence. They cut between our customary lands, separating peoples who share a language and culture, and depriving people of access to sacred sites. All media coverage lists the rich natural resources of the Essequibo region, including oil, gold, and diamonds. However, as the global community becomes more aware of human-driven climate change and the urgent need to mitigate its effects, there is a notable lack of discussion about the immense ecological importance of the region, which plays an outsized role in regulating rainfall across the continent. There is also little mention of the Indigenous peoples who live there and hold those lands…This article was originally published on Mongabay