Venezuela Signs Decree to Protect Orinoco Delta Region

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro signed a decree Friday to protect the sovereignty of the Orinoco Delta region. The decision follows the recent incursion of two vessels hired by the transnational ExxonMobil in jurisdictional waters.

During the Council of Ministers of the Venezuelan cabinet, held at the Miraflores Palace, President Maduro made the document that supports the defense on the continental shelf of the area official.

“This decree has been approved for the sovereign and jurisdirectional guarantee of the Continental Shelf the Orinoco Delta. This asserts maximum legal security to the maritime spaces of Venezuela,” the vice-president of Venezuela, Delcy Rodriguez, confirmed to local media.

For his part, Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza said, through his Twitter account, that the decree strengthens full sovereignty of the Orinoco Delta, amid tensions with Guyana after the unauthorized emergence of two ships in that area.

“In the past, Venezuela gave out Southern Orinoco mines to transnational and private individuals. Today, Venezuela does not give up its mining rights [but] promotes productive strategic alliances and mixed companies, under strict environmental and social regulations.”

On Dec. 23, the Venezuelan National Navy detected the incursion, into its jurisdictional waters, of two seismic-exploration vessels, ‘Ramfor’ of the Bahamas and ‘Delta Monarch’ of Trinidad and Tobago.

According to Venezuelan Government’s information, the captains of the intercepted ships claimed to have permits from Guyana’s Government to operate in that maritime space. However, those ships were in coordinates corresponding to the maritime projection of the Orinoco Delta.

Later, the Venezuelan Government stated, through a Note of Protest, its “categorical rejection of the unilateral, unconscionable and arbitrary activities of exploration, or of any other nature, on unmarked maritime areas, which Guyana has been facilitating to hydrocarbons transnationals.”

The Guyana-Venezuela dispute dates back to Venezuela’s defense of the ‘Essequibo’, a 61,000 square-mile territory that contains deposits of gold, bauxite, diamonds and oil.