The Guyana-Venezuela conflict and the problems of Colombia and Nicaragua
For decades, maps and charts produced in Venezuela have depicted the Guyanese-owned territory of almost 160,000 square kilometres – that’s almost ¾ of Guyana – as an integral part of Venezuela. Guyana strongly rejects Venezuelan claims and is supported by the rest of the world in doing so. When in 2015, ExxonMobil discovered huge oil reserves (around 11 billion barrels) in the ocean floor off the coast of Guyana – in territory disputed according to Venezuela – Venezuelan propaganda set off with redoubled force. Therefore, at Guyana’s urging, the United Nations 2018 referred the case to the International Court of Justice to finally settle the dispute between the two countries.
The Colombian government has resumed peace talks with the country’s largest rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN). In February, the Colombian authorities declared an informal ceasefire with four armed groups: The Gaitanista Self-Defence Forces (“Clan del Golfo”), two groups of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC), which rejected the 2016 peace agreement, and a paramilitary group called the Conquistador Self-Defense Forces of the Sierra Nevada.
Nicaragua first released 222 political prisoners and sent them to the US – seen as a step towards easing tensions between the two countries – and then revoked the citizenship of 94 exiled dissidents. The UN deemed the decision contrary to international law and was also met with criticism from the US authorities. Among those who have had their citizenship revoked are writer Sergio Ramírez and Catholic bishop Silvio Báez.