Brasília (DF), 05/29/2023 – President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva receives the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, at the Palácio do Planalto. Photo: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is scheduled to meet with the head of government of Guyana, Irfaan Ali, next Thursday (29), in Georgetown, the capital of the neighboring country, to discuss the bilateral agenda. This meeting takes place amid the escalation of the dispute between Venezuela and Guyana over the Essequibo region, a territory historically contested by both countries.

Lula’s main commitment is to participate in the closing of the 46th Summit of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), where Brazil was invited as a special observer. However, the confirmation of the meeting between the Brazilian president and his Guyanese counterpart demonstrates mutual concern regarding the territorial crisis.

One of the points to be discussed during the meeting is the crisis between Guyana and Venezuela over the Essequibo region. The appointment of a governor for Essequibo by the Venezuelan government, as well as the release of a new map that includes the territory in question, have increased tensions in the region.

Ambassador Gisela Padovan, Secretary of Latin America at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MRE), highlighted that Brazil seeks a negotiated solution to the conflict and reinforced the country’s neutrality on this issue. She also mentioned the ongoing dialogue between the presidents of Venezuela and Guyana, highlighting Brazil’s role as a facilitator in this process.

In December 2023, Maduro and Ali signed a joint declaration committing not to use force against each other in the dispute over Essequibo. Since then, Brazil has played an active role in mediating dialogue between the two countries, together with Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica.

Lula’s trip will also include a meeting with the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, during the 8th summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac), on March 1st. However, the meeting takes place amid criticism of the Venezuelan president for his actions that put the Barbados Agreement at risk, a pact that provides for transparent elections in Venezuela later this year. This meeting will serve as an opportunity to assess the Venezuelan government’s stance in relation to the crisis and to discuss possible solutions to the impasse.

Recently, at least 12 employees from a local office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) left Venezuela after the government ordered their departure. This move raised additional concerns about the Maduro government’s commitment to human rights and democracy.

Furthermore, the situation in Venezuela was worsened by the ban on the candidacy of opposition leader María Corina Machado in the presidential elections and the arrest of activist Rocío San Miguel, accused of terrorism by the Maduro government.

In addition, Lula will also meet with Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, mediator of the dialogue between Venezuela and Guyana, during the CELAC summit. These meetings highlight the importance of Brazil as a regional actor in the search for stability and peace in Latin America and the Caribbean.

75% of the territory

At the end of last year, Venezuela held a popular consultation that approved the incorporation of Essequibo, a region disputed by the two countries for more than a century, which makes up almost 75% of Guyana’s territory. The Venezuelan government also authorized the exploration of natural resources in the region and appointed a military governor for the area. It was the trigger for tensions between the two countries to increase ever since.

The discovery of oil transformed Guyana into one of the most developing countries in South America. The Brazilian government even reinforced the presence of military troops in Roraima, which borders the two countries, and defended the resolution of the controversy between two nations through mediated dialogue. Brazil is the only country that shares a simultaneous border with Guyana and Venezuela, and a possible military conflict could threaten part of Brazilian territory in Roraima.

Lula’s visit to Guyana and his subsequent meeting with Maduro in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines reflect Brazil’s commitment to seeking a diplomatic solution to the crisis between Venezuela and Guyana, guaranteeing security and stability in the region.


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