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Can Brazil Stop Venezuela from Invading Guyana?

In an effort to divert attention from his numerous missteps ahead of the 2024 election, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is threatening to annex neighboring Guyana’s oil-rich Essequibo region. Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva must assert his authority to prevent further destabilization.

SÃO PAOLO – The Brazilian government, eager to assert itself as South America’s preeminent power, finds itself at a crossroads. The victory of libertarian opportunist Javier Milei in Argentina’s recent presidential election has added a new element of uncertainty to Brazil’s relationship with its southern neighbor. Meanwhile, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s threats to annex Guyana’s oil-rich Essequibo region jeopardize the increasingly fragile alliance between Brazil and its northern neighbor.

These developments have underscored the need for Brazil to focus on maintaining respectful and harmonious relations with its allies and adversaries in Latin America, instead of trying to extend its reach to Europe, the Middle East, and the South China Sea.

Venezuela’s territorial claims in the Essequibo region date back to the early nineteenth century. Though Venezuela initially agreed to the international ruling that established the current border in 1899, when Guyana was still a British colony, it quickly came to regret this decision.