Seven people were on board the military vehicle; there is no evidence of Venezuelan involvement in the case

A military helicopter from the Guyanese Army disappeared in the Essequibo region, close to the border with Venezuela on Wednesday (6.Dec.2023). To journalists, the head of the GDF (Guyana Defense Forces), Brigadier Omar Khan, stated that 7 people were on board the vehicle.

According to the military, defense forces lost contact with the Bell 412 EPI helicopter after it took off from the Olive Creek settlement in western Guyana. Its destination was the village of Arau.

“The aircraft transmitted an emergency locator transmitter signal at 11:20 a.m. [horário local]from coordinates [localizadas] approximately 48 km east of Arau, on our western border”, the defense forces said in a statement. Here is the full text (PDF – 132 kB, in English).

Khan said the area had seen severe weather, which could have caused the disappearance. A search and rescue team was sent to the region, but poor weather conditions made the search for the aircraft difficult.

The brigadier also stated that the soldiers on board were traveling to inspect the troops in Essequibo, Guyanese territory claimed by the Venezuelan government. However, he said there was no evidence of Venezuelan involvement in the case when asked if the helicopter had been brought down by an attack.

“We do not have any information to suggest that there were any Venezuelan aircraft flights in that area. Speculation is not what I want to address. Our priority is to save the lives of our officers and ranks. This event, this incident, I am sure, generated additional anxiety in this period we are in.”these.


Countries face a moment of tension after Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro claimed the Essequibo region. The area corresponds to 74% of Guyana’s territory and has been the subject of dispute for more than a century.

On Tuesday (Dec 5), Maduro announced measures to create a Venezuelan province in Essequibo and released a new map of the country that includes the region. The measure was carried out after the Venezuelan population approved the annexation of the territory in a referendum held on December 3.

Watch (1min54s):

Guyanese President, Irfaan Ali, stated in a speech on Tuesday (Dec 5) that Maduro’s actions are a imminent threat to territorial integrity” of Guyana and that the country “will intensify precautionary measures to protect its territory”.

Watch (7min43s):


Venezuelans voted on Sunday (Dec 3) in a referendum on the annexation of part of Guyana’s territory. The measure, of a consultative nature, was announced by Maduro on November 10.

Essequibo has 160 thousand km² and is administered by Guyana. The area is rich in oil and minerals, and has access to the Atlantic Ocean.

The referendum presented 5 questions, in which Venezuelans chose between the answers “sim” e “no”. They were approved by the CNE (National Electoral Council) of Venezuela in October.

These are questions about the Paris Report of 1899 – a measure resulting from a treaty signed in Washington in 1897, which determined the area as belonging to Guyana, which was a British colony at the time, and delimited a dividing line of the territory.

The questions also address the 1966 Geneva Agreement – ​​in which the United Kingdom recognized Venezuela’s claim to Essequibo and classified the situation as negotiable.

One of them also questions the competence of the International Court of Justice to judge the case. The UN (United Nations) judicial body in The Hague, Netherlands, decided on Friday (Dec 1) that Venezuela cannot take steps to annex the territory.

According to the decision, the government of Nicolás Maduro “shall refrain from taking any action that could modify the situation currently prevailing in the disputed territory”. Here is the full sentence (PDF – 227 kB).

Read the referendum questions:

  1. “Do you agree to reject, by all means, in accordance with the law, the line fraudulently imposed by the Paris arbitration award of 1899, which seeks to deprive us of our Essequiba Guyana?”
  2. “Do you support the 1966 Geneva Agreement as the only valid legal instrument to reach a practical and satisfactory solution for Venezuela and Guyana in relation to the dispute over the territory of Guyana Essequiba?”
  3. “Do you agree with Venezuela’s historical position of not recognizing the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice to resolve the territorial dispute over Guiana Essequiba?”
  4. “Do you agree to oppose, by all means, in accordance with the law, Guyana’s claim to unilaterally dispose of a sea pending delimitation, illegal and in violation of international law?”
  5. “You agree with the creation of the Guiana Essequiba State and with the development of an accelerated plan of comprehensive care for the current and future population of this territory, which includes, among others, the granting of citizenship and Venezuelan identity card, in accordance with the Geneva Agreement and International Law, consequently incorporating this State into the map of Venezuelan territory?”

The Guyanese government classified the measure as “provocative, illegal, null and void of international legal effect”. He also accused the Venezuelan leader of an international crime by trying to weaken the territorial integrity of the sovereign state of Guyana. Here is the full statement (PDF – 19 kB).

The country also defends the 1897 Washington Treaty. “For more than 6 decades, the border was internationally recognized, accepted and respected by Venezuela, Guyana and the international community as being the land border between the 2 States”said the country’s government.

On Tuesday (Dec 5), the president of Guyana, Irfaan Ali, said in a statement that he would call on the UN Security Council (United Nations) for the body to take “appropriate measures” about the issue.


According to the National Electoral Council of Venezuela, just over half of voters eligible to vote went to the polls. 10,554,320 (out of 20,694,124 total) were counted in the referendum, not counting the votes cast during the final two hours of voting.

Venezuela has 15,857 voting centers spread across 335 municipalities in the country’s 23 states and in the capital.

Voting began at 6am local time (7am Brasília time) and ended at 8pm (9pm Brasília time), as it was extended by two hours.

The official result of the referendum will be released from December 8th to January 6th, as established in the official calendar. Here is the full calendar (PDF – 258 kB).

Read more:


On November 30, the Brazilian Ministry of Defense reported that it had increased its military presence in the border region in the north of the country, close to Venezuela and Guyana.

The reinforcement responded to a request from Senator Hiran Gonçalves (PP-RR), who requested reinforcement of troops in Pacaraima (RR), a city on the border with Essequibo.

Furthermore, the secretary of Latin America and the Caribbean at Itamaraty, Gisela Maria Figueiredo Padovan, said that Brazil follows the issue with “attention” and holds high-level talks with both countries in “search for a negotiated solution”. He stated that the Brazilian government considers the referendum as a “country’s internal affairs”.

“We don’t give opinions. However, we know that the result will probably be favorable, because this is an issue that unites government and opposition [da Venezuela], perhaps the only topic on which both sides agree. So I guess there’s no surprise if people answer ‘yes’ to the questions.”he told journalists on November 30.

Read more:


Guyana has 214,969 km² and 800 thousand inhabitants. The official languages ​​are English and regional languages. The currency is the Guyanese dollar.

The country’s wealth has grown because of oil in the Equatorial Margin. It is expected to become a new oil power in the region. The estimate is that the total oil at the site is 14.8 billion barrels. This volume corresponds to 75% of Brazil’s total oil reserves.

Guyana’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is expected to grow 29% in 2023, according to World Bank projections released in October this year. It will be the highest performance among Latin American and Caribbean countries. Data from the entity shows that the South American country grew 43.5% in 2020, 20.1% in 2021 and 63.4% in 2022. Read the full report (PDF – 6 MB).

The IMF (International Monetary Fund) estimates growth of 38.4% in the country’s GDP in 2023.


The first settlers in the region were the Spanish, who arrived in the region in 1499. In the 16th century, Guyana came under Dutch control. According to the Contemporary Portal of Latin America and the Caribbean from USP (University of São Paulo), the Dutch believed that El Dorado could be located in the region – a legend that said there was a city where there was an abundance of gold.

In 1616, the first Dutch fort was built in Essequibo. The place would also serve as a trading post, managed by the Dutch West India Company. The then Dutch colony began to have as its economic base the export of sugar and tobacco.

With the implementation of an extensive irrigation system in the 18th century, Guyana expanded the number of agricultural lands, which attracted English settlers from Caribbean islands.

The population of British origin outnumbered the Dutch in the region at the end of the 18th century. With the French Revolution and the expansion of France in Europe, the Dutch decided to hand over part of their colonies to English administration to protect themselves from possible French intervention. .

In 1814, the Essequiba, Demerara and Berbice colonies were officially transferred to England through the Anglo-Dutch treaty. The territory was renamed British Guiana in 1931. The country declared its independence in 1966, but continued to be part of the British Commonwealth – a group of former British colonies.


The president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, 60 years old, heads an autocratic regime with no guarantees of fundamental freedoms. He keeps, for example, people imprisoned for what he considers “political crimes”.

There are also restrictions described in OAS (Organization of American States) reports on “illegitimate appointment” the National Electoral Council for an illegitimate National Assembly, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (October 2022, November 2022 and March 2023).


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