Venezuela is a country situated in the northern part of South America. Three countries share a land border with Venezuela; Guyana, Brazil, and Colombia, and of these bordering countries, Colombia has the longest border while Guyana has the shortest. The country has a long coastline where it borders the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Venezuela also possesses a maritime border which it shares with numerous other countries including the United States, St. Vincent, the Netherlands, France, Dominica, the United Kingdom, Trinidad and Tobago, the Dominican Republic, and Grenada.
Colombia and Venezuela share the longest land boundary. The land border stretches 1,378 miles in length. The two countries have numerous border cities situated on either side of the border. A significant portion of the border follows several major rivers. The border was established as a result of two principal international agreements; the 1941 Treaty of Limits and the 1891 “Spanish Award of Queen Maria Cristina.” Colombians had for decades considered Venezuela as a haven, as they fled from domestic conflict in their country. President Hugo Chavez welcomed Colombians into his country, even offering transport for the immigrants. Venezuela had immense wealth from oil revenue, allowing the government to finance populist projects to endear itself to voters during the elections. Colombians were offered social services and subsidized basic commodities. However, some commodities were smuggled to Colombia where they attracted a high price, earning the smugglers profits. By the late 20th century, 77% of immigrants in the country were Colombians.
Colombia Migrant Crisis
However, relations between the two countries were not always rosy. Since the 2010s, Venezuela has been grappling with economic misfortunes of catastrophic proportions. The populist economic policies and projects implemented during the Hugo Chavez regime proved unsustainable, which were compounded by the drop in global oil prices, plunged the Venezuelan economy into depths it had never experienced before. Unemployment, hyperinflation, and unavailability of basic commodities became rampant in the country, triggering political instability. The new regime, led by President Nicolas Maduro, blamed the Colombian immigrants in the country for the economic crisis, claiming that these Colombians smuggled about 40% of all subsidized commodities meant for Venezuelans. Colombians in the country complained of discrimination and mistreatment from the government and began fleeing back to Colombia in their thousands. Then in August 2015, cross-border gunfire was witnessed, resulting in three Venezuelan military officers sustaining injuries. In response, President Maduro issued the State of Emergency and directed that the Colombia-Venezuela border between Urena and San Antonio del Tachire be closed.Mass deportation of Colombians in Venezuela has witnessed soon afterward that caused a migrant crisis in Colombia. Diplomatic relations between the neighboring countries were affected by the act, prompting Colombia and Venezuela to recall their respective ambassadors. The border was later reopened after diplomatic relations between the two countries eased.
Brazil shares a long land border with Venezuela, which is the second-longest of all Venezuela’s bordering countries. The border was established in 1859 during the signing of the Treaty of Limits and River Navigation, but its ratification was done in the 1929 Protocol. The Triple Point, the point on Cucuy Rock at which Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela meet, acts as the starting point of the Venezuela-Brazil border, from where it runs eastwards to the Guyana-Brazil-Venezuela Triple Point where its ends, stretching a length of 1,366 miles. However, Venezuela claims that the border ends near the Mapuera Mountains as it claims ownership of the Guayana Esequiba, claims that are neither recognized by Guyana nor Brazil. For the most part, the border follows natural boundaries such as rivers and mountain ranges. The border lies on the remote part of South America, filled with dense forests and has a single road crossing that connects the Venezuelan town of Santa Elena de Uairen to Pacaraima in Brazil. In recent years, thousands of Venezuelans have crossed the border, into Brazil escaping the economic crisis that has befallen Venezuela.
Venezuela’s easternmost neighboring country is Guyana which has the shortest land border with Venezuela. There is, however, part of the border whose ownership has been disputed by the two countries for decades. The region in contention is known as Guayana Esequiba. Internationally, the region is recognized as being part of Guyana, but Venezuela has persistently claimed. Guayana Esequiba sits on an area covering 61,600 square miles. The two countries agreed to find an amicable diplomatic solution for the issue in an agreement known as the Treaty of Geneva, signed by Venezuela, Guyana, and the United Kingdom in February 1966.
The United States
The country shares a maritime border with the United States in the Caribbean Sea. This maritime border stretches 298.7 nautical miles and delimits the Venezuelan islands from the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, both of which are territories of the United States. The two countries established the maritime border after the signing of a treaty in Caracas, Venezuela. Officially known as the “Tratado de Limites Maritimos entre Los Estados Unidos de America y la Republica de Venezuela,” the international agreement was signed in March 1978. The agreement came into effect in November 1980 after the two countries ratified the agreement.
The Netherlands also shares a maritime border with Venezuela as Netherlands’ territory known as the Netherlands Antilles are found near Venezuela. The maritime border is complex and is made up of four maritime sectors. The agreement between the Netherlands and Venezuela was signed on March 31st, 1978 and provided for the establishment of the four sectors. The treaty was signed in Willemstad, Curacao, which is part of the Netherlands. Sections C and D of the maritime border are connected to a part of United States-Venezuela maritime border.
Other Maritime Borders
Other countries that share a maritime boundary with the country include St. Kitts and Nevis in the north-east, Trinidad and Tobago also in the north-east, the United Kingdom, Grenada, Dominica and St Vincent, the Grenadines, and France. Dominica has been embroiled in a territorial dispute of the Aves Island with Venezuela and the Netherlands.