Century-old Guyana-Venezuela border spat flares after Exxon find
By Neil Marks
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, June 8 (Reuters) - Guyana's new government on Monday attacked a decree by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro which it said seeks to annex Guyanese maritime space in the wake of an oil discovery.
The dispute between the South American neighbors goes back to the early 19th Century and has resurged after an offshore oil discovery by ExxonMobil Corp last month.
The decree creates a theoretical new "defense" zone offshore that would, in Venezuela's eyes, leave the former British colony with no direct access to the Atlantic.
Guyana's foreign ministry described the decree as a "flagrant violation of international law."
"Guyana rejects this illegality which seeks to undermine our development through the exploitation of our natural resources offshore," added the statement.
In April, Venezuela's Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez wrote a letter to Exxon's Guyana country manager Jeff Simon saying Venezuela would not accept the incursion or interference of any multinational company in the disputed territory.
The controversy centers on land to the west of Guyana's Essequibo River, encompassing around two-thirds of the small English-speaking nation on the shoulder of South America.
Maduro's decree changes a more conciliatory stance towards Guyana from his predecessor Hugo Chavez, who was friendly with the previous government and sold Guyana fuel on advantageous terms under the Petrocaribe initiative. Continuación...