UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Guyana used the United Nations as a forum to blast Venezuela on Tuesday, accusing the neighboring oil powerhouse of “intimidation and aggression” related to a border dispute two days after the countries agreed to restore diplomatic ties.
In his speech at the U.N. General Assembly, Guyana’s president David Granger accused his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolas Maduro, of cross-border bullying.
“There has been a series of acts of aggression by presidents of Venezuela against my country,” Granger said, citing actions dating from 1968 to “President Nicolas Maduro’s decree of May 2015.”
The decree created a theoretical “defense” zone offshore that would, in Venezuela’s eyes, leave Guyana with no direct access to the Atlantic Ocean.
Granger said Venezuela, “mindful of its superior wealth and military strength and unmindful of its obligation as a member state of the United Nations ... has pursued a path of intimidation and aggression.”
Maduro withdrew his country’s ambassador to Guyana in July after demanding a halt to oil exploration by Exxon Mobil Corp off the coast of a region known as the Essequibo. In September, he yanked accreditation for Guyana’s ambassador to Venezuela.
On Sunday, Maduro said he and Granger agreed to restore their respective ambassadors after meeting in New York.
“The diplomacy of peace prevailed,” Maduro said during his speech to the General Assembly on Tuesday.
Exxon in May said it had found oil in an area known as the Stabroek Block under a license granted by Guyana’s government. The company has declined to comment on the dispute.
The Essequibo, a sparsely populated region of thick jungle, functions in practice as part of Guyana. The country says Caracas agreed to relinquish the Essequibo following a ruling by an international tribunal in 1899, but that Venezuela later backtracked on that decision.
Venezuela says the 1899 ruling was unfair and insists the territory is still in dispute. Maps in Venezuela usually describe the Essequibo as the “reclamation zone.”
In another border dispute, Venezuela will allow over 1,500 deported Colombians to return to Venezuela after the two countries agreed to restore diplomatic relations, regional bloc UNASUR announced on Monday.
“There was a problem with drug trafficking,” Maduro said in his U.N. speech. “Now, today, I can say we have hope that the situation will be resolved and we will be able to resume normal working relations with the government of Colombia. The same applies to our sister republic of Guyana.”
Reporting by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Jonathan Oatis