The president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, signed late this past Friday the six decrees anticipated throughout this week and that represent a plan to incorporate the Esequivo to the political map of Venezuela, in an announcement made a week after a referendum on the territory.

Venezuela approved on Sunday through this plebiscite the annexation of Essequibo. A few days later, the president of Venezuela presented to the National Assembly an Organic Law for the creation of the state of Guayana Esequiba following the results of the referendum, which in the eyes of Caracas has gone from being consultative to binding.

The territorial conflict dates back to the 19th century, when an 1899 ruling, defended from Georgetown, stipulated that Venezuela renounced Essequibo, although it later retracted this. For its part, Caracas relies on the 1966 Geneva Agreement signed between the United Kingdom (former colonial power of Guyana) and Venezuela, in which they recognized Essequibo as a disputed territory.

The president of Guyana, Irfaan Ali, has urged Maduro, for his part, to respect International Law and to avoid any possible “false step” in relation to the territory of Essequibo, warning that the Guyanese Armed Forces are already on “high alert” and, at the political level, there are contacts with both the UN and the United States.

The first of the decrees officially designates Major General Alexis Rodríguez Cabello, a 58-year-old soldier, as the “sole authority” of the Esequivo accompanied, in the second decree, by the creation of “a National High Commission for the defense and recovery” of the territory headed by the country’s vice president, Delcy Rodríguez, according to the statement collected by the official VTV television network.

The political-administrative headquarters of this “single authority” will be found in Tumeremo, in the east of the country and next to the border with Guyana, the Venezuelan Government announced last Wednesday.

The third decree presents a new map of Venezuela that effectively incorporates the territory — “It must be taken to schools, high schools, in a special place in the home,” Maduro warned during his presentation — while a fourth decree announces the immediate creation of the Essequibo division of the Venezuelan state oil company, PVDSA.

A fifth decree refers to the creation of a “defense zone” for the territory, the so-called Guayana Esequiba Comprehensive Defense Zone (ZODI). “A key issue, they have destroyed the environment, all the biodiversity, the beauty and we have to recover it,” said Maduro. The sixth decree, related to the previous one, begins “the declaration of the new national parks, Defense Protective Zone and natural monuments of Guayana Esequiba.”