Colombia and Venezuela: The Border Dispute Over the Gulf

By Rico


TODAY COLOMBIA – A long standing border dispute between Colombia and Venezuela over the area known as the Gulf of Venezuela, or Gulf of Coquibacoa, resurfaced when the recent decree of President Nicolás Maduro established this area as an “operating maritime and insular zone of integral defense.” On May 26, after the Guyanese government contracted ExxonMobil to look for offshore oil in an area that Caracas claims as its own, Maduro took measures to establish Venezuela’s sovereignty over several areas, including the aforementioned, through Decree 1.787. As a result, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, María Ángela Holguin, delivered a note of protest to the Venezuelan government regarding the decree’s implicit claim over the area, in dispute for at least 200 years.

The Differendum

A historical review of the dispute helps to put the current situation in context. Ever since Gran Colombia, the post-colonial state that encompassed Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Panama, dissolved in 1831, both Venezuela and Colombia have failed to agree on the limits of their territorial waters over the Gulf, specifically Los Monjes islets. The countries have referred to different historical documents and theses to justify their claims to this area. While Colombia insists … continue reading