Date of Graduation

Spring 2024


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

Kerry Kartchner


As global tensions escalate over territorial disputes, Venezuela's assertion of claims over the Essequibo territory in Guyana threaten to destabilize a pivotal region in South America known for its abundant natural resources and prospering economy. This thesis will highlight the key distinctions between different European explorers and how they diversified the legacy of colonialism, changed historical and political trajectory, and shaped modern-day Guyana and Venezuela. It will highlight the critical roles that natural resources and international law play in territorial contention and sculpting of the geopolitical landscape within this crucial region. This thesis will scrutinize the potential fallout of the Essequibo region dispute by highlighting its capacity to catalyze substantial destabilization across the region. It will also explore the border impacts on the Western Hemisphere by examining adverse external influences and shifts in international relationships resulting from challenges over this disputed territory. This thesis will examine the role of international involvement, committees, and judicial rulings to deter Venezuela’s attempts to annex the Essequibo, mitigate conflict, and prevent destabilization within this key region in Latin America. It will also discuss the legacy of colonial-era border decisions and how they continue to shape contemporary geopolitics, highlight the complex dynamics of international relations, and emphasize the challenges of addressing territorial disputes in a global context. Lastly, this thesis will discuss implications to U.S. foreign policy to reassess diplomatic engagement, international dialogue, conflict resolution efforts, and regional initiatives for Latin America to address the Venezuela-Guyana territorial dispute and preserve regional stability.


territorial disputes, Essequibo territory, natural resources, international law, geopolitical landscape, destabilization, international relationships, judicial rulings, contemporary geopolitics


© Anissa L. Rodriguez

Open Access