Referendum on Essequibo “must be suspended” – Maduro’s main presidential challenger

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Nicolas Maduro’s main challenger in Venezuela’s upcoming presidential elections, María Corina Machado has called for the suspension of the December 3 referendum on Guyana’s Essequibo region. 

“The referendum on Essequibo must be suspended,” she said in a translated statement on X (formally Twitter). 

Machado, who won the opposition primary ahead of next year’s presidential election, called the annexation attempt a “distraction” from Venezuela’s ongoing political and economic crises.

Guyana warns against ‘international crime of aggression’ as Venezuela intensifies efforts to grab territory | OilNOW 

“They invent distractions, distractions of all kinds. Some [are] irrelevant and ridiculous, and others very serious,” she continued. 

Guyana is currently awaiting a judgment from the World Court on its request for measures that would effectively block Venezuela’s referendum. 

The two nations have been embroiled in the controversy with a case before the ICJ to offer a final and binding settlement on the validity of the arbitral award which demarcates the shared territory. 

Venezuela has long said that it does not recognize the authority of the World Court to preside over the matter, despite its participation in the proceedings. And Machado holds the view that the referendum can hurt Venezuela’s case. 

“It is a mistake that not only does not contribute to the defense of our territory, but it can also harm us before our defense in the International Court of Justice,” Machado continued. 

She had criticized the referendum earlier in the month, stating she believes it is non-binding, and would weaken Venezuela’s position under international law. 

“Sovereignty is exercised, not consulted,” she said – another unofficial translation.

Venezuela reinvigorated its claims to the Essequibo territory over the past several weeks after being irked by Guyana’s maiden bid round. The new wave of aggression includes threats and the posting of Venezuelan military at the shared border. And  then the referendum. 

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