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March 13, 2015


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It's half the country, but only about 10-15 % of the population -- most of Guyana Esequeiba is pretty rugged, and there aren't any big towns.

That said, the current border is guaranteed by both the US and Britain. So attempts to change it by force would be pretty stupid. Not quite unthinkable -- I can imagine a Venezuelan government under heavy domestic pressure getting desperate enough for a distraction -- but stupid.

Doug M.

From the map, it looks rather more than half of Guyana -- maybe even closer to 2/3 than 1/2? That's a pretty impressive claim.

"the current border is guaranteed by both the US and Britain"

*cough* Budapest Memorandum. *cough*

Point taken. But to be frank, that is because the U.S. does not want to go to war with Russia over Ukraine. On the other hand, the United States would be perfectly happy to go to war with Venezuela over Guyana.

The reason isn't really Monroe Doctrine related (although that is part of it). Rather its because Russia has the capability to start a much wider war even if you ignore the nuclear weapons. Venezuela, on the other hand, can't do much. They already played the FARC card, which is rapidly becoming obsolete. From Washington's POV, there is nothing to lose in a Gulf War 1 style operation to eject Venezuelan forces from Guyana.

That said, Venezuela doesn't currently have the operational capacity to pull off an invasion. So I don't stay awake wondering if Maduro might try to emulate Galtieri or Putin and unite his people around a foreign expedition.

A while back, Doug and I asked why Venezuela just didn't buy the territory, considering as they could probably compensate Guyana for the loss without around $4 billion:


The consensus was that Guyana would reject it, and that would leave Caracas with egg on its face, especially since offering compensation would involve a de facto admission that Venezuela doesn't own the territory.

Well I don't see why Caricom states would be expected to change their historic support for Guyana on this issue because of a one-off transfer of $13.1 billion and a whole bunch of super cheap loans.

Using oil money to buy friendship, or at least diplomatic mojo, seems to be a lot harder than one might think. Qaddafi tried it, and in the end all it got him was an offer of refuge in Niger. The Russians... um?

The Saudis are the big big big exception here.

Doug M.

An article from a fellow voluntary refugee from HBS:


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