Guyana warned on Tuesday it would go to the UN Security Council if the fight with Venezuela about the Essequibo border territory escalates, according to Attorney General Anil Nandlall.
"Any action or attempt to take any action under the referendum will require recourse to the UN Security Council as an aggrieved party," said Nandlall.
Venezuelans voted Sunday in a referendum called by the government, in which more than 95% of voters approved the transformation of Essequibo into a state in the country. Data from the Venezuelan National Electoral Council indicate that 10.5 million voters agreed to incorporate the Guyanese territory into Venezuela and grant citizenship to Guyanese individuals who live in the area.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro spoke about the referendum results.
“Long live the victory of all the people in a historic Consultative Referendum that has put Venezuela on its feet. We have taken the first steps of a new historical stage to fight for our Guayana Esequiba, for Peace and to recover what the liberators left us. The people spoke loud and clear,” he wrote on X.
Guyana and Venezuela have been engaged in a years-long dispute about their borders that intensified after ExxonMobil's first oil discovery in the territory eight years ago.
While Guyana said its border with Venezuela was fixed by an arbitration tribunal in 1899, Venezuela said the Essequibo River forms a natural frontier recognized at the time of independence from Spain.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in April ruled it had jurisdiction over the issue, which could determine which country has rights to territory.
On Friday, the ICJ ordered the Venezuelan government to "refrain from any action that modifies the situation currently in force" in Essequibo and both parties "to refrain from any action that could aggravate or extend the dispute."
But Maduro rejects the court’s injunction.
Nadlall said Guyana would appeal to articles 41 and 42 of the UN Charter, which empowers the Security Council to take military action and sanctions.
Maduro urged on Monday "a diplomatic, fair, satisfactory for the parties and friendly agreement," and accused the US of intervening in the dispute to favor ExxonMobil, which began oil exploitation in 2015 alongside the Guyanese government in waters not yet delimited.
"Let Guyana and Venezuela resolve this matter in peace. Get out of here," he said, referring to the US.
Thousands of Guyanese formed human chains Sunday to show they want to belong to Guyana.
Many waved the country's flags and wore T-shirts with phrases such as "Essequibo belongs to Guyana."
Guyanese President Irfaan Ali told Guyanese they had "nothing to fear."