Caracas (OrinocoTribune.com)—The Venezuelan people and Chavismo scored an important victory this Sunday when Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) made public the first report on the results of the Essequibo Referendum called by the National Assembly (AN) two months ago, on September 27, and announcing an overwhelming victory of the “Yes,” the option promoted by President Nicolás Maduro’s administration.
On Sunday night, December 3, the CNE reported the following results:
• On question 1: Yes 97.8% / No: 2.2%
• On question 2: Yes: 98.1% / No: 1.8%
• On question 3: Yes: 95.4% / No: 4.1%
• On question 4: Yes: 95.9% / No: 4.1%
• On question 5: Yes: 95.9% / No: 4.1%
All five questions on the referendum were overwhelmingly approved by the Venezuelan people, with the first and second being the most affirmatively voted. The questions can be read below:
1- Do you agree to repudiate, by all means, in accordance with the law, the line fraudulently imposed by the Paris Arbitral Award of 1899, which seeks to dispossess us of our Essequibo territory?
2- Do you support the Geneva Agreement of 1966 as the only valid legal instrument to reach a practical and satisfactory solution for Venezuela and Guyana regarding the dispute over the territory of Essequibo?
3- Do you agree with Venezuela’s historical position of not recognizing the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice to resolve the territorial controversy over the Essequibo?
4- Do you agree to oppose, by all means, in accordance with the law, Guyana’s intention to unilaterally dispose of a sea pending delimitation, illegally and in violation of international law?
5- Do you agree with the creation of the state of Guayana Esequiba and the development of an accelerated plan for the integral attention of the current and future population of that territory, which includes, among others, the granting of Venezuelan citizenship and identity cards, in accordance with the Geneva Agreement and international law, consequently incorporating said state in the map of the Venezuelan territory?
With a reported turnout of more than 10.5 million voters, representing approximately 50% of the electoral roll, the Essequibo referendum represents an important victory for the Venezuelan people, reaffirming their commitment to defend their rightful claim over the Essequibo territory, and, simultaneously, it represents a victory for Chavismo, which was able to unite the people, even including far-right opposition sectors that traditionally oppose anything related to Chavismo.
President Maduro’s reaction
From Bolívar Square in Caracas, President Nicolás Maduro, just a few minutes after the CNE report, addressed the Venezuelan people to acknowledge the participation of people in the referendum in which the “Yes” vote won overwhelmingly throughout Venezuela.
“We have fulfilled it. The referendum was held and it has been a total success for our country and our democracy. An overwhelming victory for the ‘Yes’ throughout Venezuela, with a significant level of participation,” said President Maduro.
“We have taken the first steps of a new historical stage to fight for what is ours and recover what the Libertadores left us: the Essequibo territory,” he added.
The president applauded the bravery of the opposition parties that joined the electoral contest to defend Essequibo. Likewise, he congratulated the people of Venezuela, the Plan República, and the National Electoral Council for an election day in which all the people expressed themselves in peace while inviting the country to open new paths of unity, without political schisms, aiming to achieve a complete recovery of the country.
The voting day
CNE President Elvis Amoroso reported earlier on Sunday that at 6:00 in the morning, 75% of the voting centers were operational and, at 9:00, the figure reached 97%. No major disruptions or incidents were reported during the electoral journey, and, as Orinoco Tribune could corroborate, on the ground, the process was very efficient and without delays despite some exceptions in working-class neighborhoods.
In the afternoon, Amoroso extended the closing time from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., as many voters remained in the voting centers. Late in the night, when President Maduro was addressing the victory in front of hundreds of supporters at Bolívar Square (in Caracas), Miranda state governor Hector Rodriguez mentioned that at that time (approximately 11:00 p.m.), there were still some voting centers with people voting.
Venezuelan opposition in its labyrinth
Despite flip-flopping on the Essequibo referendum by the Venezuelan far-right opposition leadership, with the Unitary Platform calling for its supporters to “exercise their free will” instead of calling for the straight defense of Venezuelan territorial integrity, many were surprised on Sunday when they witnessed important opposition politicians exercising their democratic right to vote.
Zulia governor Manuel Rosales from the Un Nuevo Tiempo party; Carlos Prosperi from the Democratic Action party (A); Stalin Gonzalez, member of the Unitary Platform negotiation team from Justice First (PJ); former opposition primaries pre-candidate Andres Caleca; Antonio Ecarri for the Lapiz party; former opposition pre-candidate Benjamin Rausseo (El Conde); and Daniel Ceballos from Popular Will (VP) were among the opposition figures that publicized their participation in the referendum.
Meanwhile, Maria Corina Machado, a prominent figure in the far-right opposition, has found herself overshadowed by the Essequibo referendum initiative due to her own inconsistent positions. She initially called for the referendum’s suspension, citing concerns that it could compromise the International Criminal Court (ICJ) process. A process not recognized by Venezuela, following the nation’s historical stance. However, in 2018, Machado publicly denounced and opposed Guyana’s intention to take the case to the ICJ.
Within this context, Guyana’s Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo took to Facebook to emphasize Machado’s stance, showcasing a clear unity of convictions between the two parties. This situation has not positioned Machado favorably and has made the Venezuelan politician, who aims to challenge President Maduro in the 2024 presidential race, largely irrelevant.
I have fully briefed President Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel of Cuba and Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent on the Venezuela/Guyana Border controversy. I reinforced Guyana’s commitment to regional peace and the rule of law. I also urged Cuba to join CARICOM in calling… pic.twitter.com/8ZIoiB8o9y
— President Dr Irfaan Ali (@presidentaligy) December 2, 2023
Surprise turn of Guyana’s position
In recent years, Guyana has adopted an aggressive and provocative approach regarding the territorial dispute with Venezuela over Essequibo. This stance has involved periodic military exercises in collaboration with the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). Guyana was an active member of the now-defunct Lima Group, which, under the guidance of the White House, pursued a diplomatic campaign that marginalized and isolated Venezuela for an extended period. Additionally, there has been a notable uptick in reported xenophobic incidents targeting Venezuelan migrants. Guyana’s actions have extended to granting oil concessions, including in waters that are not part of the dispute and belong to Venezuela. President Irfaan Ali of Guyana has consistently rebuffed President Maduro’s repeated calls to seek a diplomatic resolution to the issue, among other contentious moves.
During the recent United Nations Climate Change COP28 Summit in the United Arab Emirates, President Ali unexpectedly signaled a shift in approach by seeking potential support from Cuba. His meeting with Cuban President Miguel Miguel Díaz-Canel and St. Vincent’s Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves hinted at a possible attempt to alleviate tensions. Notably, both Cuba and St. Vincent are recognized as strategic allies of Venezuela.
“I have fully briefed President Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel of Cuba and Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of Saint Vincent [and the Grenadies] on the Venezuela/Guyana Border controversy,” wrote Guyana’s president. “I reinforced Guyana’s commitment to regional peace and the rule of law. I also urged Cuba to join CARICOM in calling for a commitment from Venezuela to maintain the region as a zone of peace. The statement by Ali represented a new attempt to portray himself as the victim, instead of the aggressor, in the recent escalation.
Special for Orinoco Tribune by staff
- orinocotribunehttps://orinocotribune.com/author/orinocotribune/February 29, 2024
- orinocotribunehttps://orinocotribune.com/author/orinocotribune/February 29, 2024