(MENAFN) Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has issued directives ordering state-owned companies to initiate immediate exploration and exploitation activities for oil, gas, and minerals in Guyana's Essequibo region. This territory, larger than Greece and claimed by Venezuela, holds significant reserves of oil and minerals. The announcement follows a weekend referendum where Maduro secured the sought-after victory regarding sovereignty over the disputed region.
Maduro's directives include plans to grant operating licenses for exploration and exploitation across the entire Essequibo area. The order further involves establishing local subsidiaries of Venezuelan public companies, such as the state-owned oil giant PDVSA and the mining conglomerate Corporación Venezolana de Guayana.
The practical implementation of this jurisdiction remains uncertain, contingent on the formal declaration of Essequibo as part of Venezuela through an upcoming law to be discussed by the National Assembly, currently under the control of the ruling party.
In addition to the resource exploitation announcement, Maduro announced the creation of a new Comprehensive Defense Operational Zone (Zodi) for the disputed strip. This move mirrors the establishment of special military commands conducting operations in different regions of the country.
Essequibo, covering 61,600 square miles (159,500 square kilometers) and constituting two-thirds of Guyana, has been a longstanding point of contention for Venezuela. The dispute dates back to the Spanish colonial period, with Venezuela consistently rejecting the border established by international arbitrators in 1899, during Guyana's British colonial era.
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