The recent case of Guyana and Venezuela is just one of the various territorial struggles that exist in the region
Leer en español: ¿Qué territorios se disputan aún en América Latina?
Countries are very similar to human beings, they are born, they grow or they decrease, they die, and they inherit. Therefore, it should not be strange to see that throughout history some countries ceased to exist. That is to say, the territory of the world is constantly reconfigured.
There were many kingdoms and empires that with the passage of time disappeared and gave rise to the current States, which are not eternally assured of their existence, nor will indefinitely possess the territorial limits they now hold. Latin America is not alien to this dynamic, so here are some current cases of territorial disputes:
- Chile - Bolivia: These two countries and Peru were the protagonists of the Pacific War between 1879 and 1883. At the end, Peruvians and Bolivians lost important territories, especially Bolivia, which lost its access to the sea in the 1904 Treaty. President Evo Morales revived the idea of a sovereign exit to the sea for Bolivia, initiating a process before the International Court of Justice of The Hague so that Chile can negotiate this exit to the sea, a case that remains unsolved.
- Argentina - United Kingdom: The Falkland Islands (Malvinas, for the Argentines) were disputed between Argentines and British for a long time. However, it was until the Falklands War in 1982 when Argentina invaded the islands to recover them from British control, after an initial victory the South Americans lost to the Europeans. Until today, the territory is administered by British, but Argentina has not renounced its sovereignty over it.
- Brazil - Uruguay: El Rincón de Artigas is a territory in the shape of a triangle located in the south of Brazil and which Uruguay argues forms part of the northern department of Artigas. The extension of the land is 237 km2. The Uruguayans maintain that due to an error of delimitation in the 19th century, the territory remained in the hands of Brazil; however, the claim does not have a legal process, so Brazil does not recognize Uruguay's claims.
- Colombia - Nicaragua: Nicaragua took Colombia to Court of The Hague due to the dispute over a maritime zone and several islands located in it. The ruling was in favor of Colombia in relation to three islands (Santa Catalina, Providencia, and San Andrés), but it modified maritime borders in favor of Nicaraguans, which is why Colombia did not accept the ruling and the issue remains unresolved.
- Guyana - Venezuela: The territory of Essequibo has been in dispute for decades. The government of Guyana has taken the case to The Hague to accept an award of 1899 that granted the territory to the British Empire, so Guyana, which obtained its independence in 1966, would be the heir of the territory. However, Venezuela appeals that the award was fraudulent and began a process against it in 1962, to redeem its claims on the territory administered by Guyana and which has oil deposits.
- Guatemala - Belize: Guatemala maintains a claim for territory of more than 12,000 km2 over Belize, which would be more than half of the current Belizean territory. The Guatemalans argue that the territory that Belize inherited from Spain and England is smaller than what they have now and that therefore the rest belongs to them. It is worth noting that several attempts to solve the problem have failed, including a binational referendum to take the case to the ICJ, so the conflict is still open.
Latin American Post | Luis Liborio
Translated from “¿Qué territorios se disputan aún en América Latina?”