Guyana warns Venezuela’s Maduro he risks becoming pariah ahead of talks | Guyana #Guyana #warns #Venezuelas #Maduro #risks #pariah #ahead #talks #Guyana

Venezuela risks becoming an international pariah if President Nicolás Maduro does not de-escalate growing tensions with Guyana, the neighbouring nation’s foreign minister told the Guardian ahead of a high-level meeting between the two countries.

“We’ve seen throughout history what happens to nation states who decide to go it alone … it usually sets the country back decades,” Hugh Todd said ahead of the summit in St Vincent on Thursday.

Guyana’s president, Mohamed Irfaan Ali, will sit down with Maduro alongside members of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and a representative from Brazil as regional leaders seek to convince the Venezuelan president to halt his increasingly belligerent rhetoric over the disputed Essequibo region.

Venezuela has laid claim to the oil-rich swath of rainforest which has made up two-thirds of Guyana since the 19th century but Maduro has upped the stakes in recent months.

In a referendum held earlier this month Maduro claimed the Venezuelan people backed the move to disregard an ongoing arbitration process in the international court of justice and convert 160,000 sq km of rainforest into a new Venezuelan state.

Following the vote Maduro revealed a revised map of Venezuela on state television and announced he would offer Venezuelan citizenship to the region’s inhabitants, sparking fears he is paving the way for a land grab.

In response, the US held military flyovers in Guyana as Ali reiterated that “all options” are on the table.

At a regional summit last week countries from across South America called for dialogue between the two countries to calm the regional tensions.

There is an “urgent need to de-escalate the conflict and institute an appropriate dialogue,” the head of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) and prime minister of St Vincent, Ralph Gonsalves said.

Though there is a concerted regional effort to prevent conflict there is no obvious way out of the diplomatic feud.

Maduro said ahead of the meeting that leaving the territorial dispute to the international courts was not an option and it threatened the “deterioration of the situation” while Guyanese officials are adamant the Hague is the only place for the matter to be resolved.

“There will be no negotiation at all. No negotiations, zero. The ICJ will settle this matter once and for all,” Todd said.

Maduro’s actions are widely seen as a way to whip up support at home ahead of presidential elections next year.

Offering Maduro an incentive in response to his belligerence was not an option as it would encourage war-mongering, Todd said.

“It’s not a case whereby we are both compliant and there are matters that we can put on the table that can allow us to have a win -win situation. This is a zero sum game for President Maduro. This is someone who is blatantly violating the international rule of law. He has to pull himself and his administration in line and that is our position.

“It’s not what the region has to offer President Maduro, it’s what President Maduro has to offer the region.”

Regional leaders will seek to remind Maduro that the country will be diplomatically shunned, causing the further deterioration of dire economic conditions in the country, if it continues signaling its intentions to invade.

Economic mismanagement and rampant corruption compounded by economic sanctions have forced 7.3 million refugees to flee Venezuela in the past decade.

“If President Maduro continues in that vein, as an authoritarian leader with no regard to his own laws or international law, then he will isolate himself from the political order and the economic order and that’s very detrimental to your own country,” Todd said.

“Maduro would not be taken seriously by any well-meaning nation state. His actions will always be condemned. And he would not be able to get his country to be an active participant within the global political and economic system. It’s simple.”

“It’s not about Guyana and the rest of the world,” Todd added. “It’s about Maduro and the Venezuelan people. If he cares about his people, and if he cares about the region, he will make a 180 [degree turn].”

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