Venezuela's Chavez Establishes Insular Territory off Caribbean Coast

On Wednesday Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced that he will use his existing legislative authority to create the Insular Territory of Miranda off the country's northern Caribbean coast, a territorial zone that includes Los Roques, La Orchila and the Archipelago Las Aves.

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On 3 August 2011 Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez created a new insular territory of Venezuela's northern coast (Agencies).
On 3 August 2011 Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez created a new insular territory of Venezuela's northern coast (Agencies).

“This is our ocean and we must exercise, concretely, in practice and in law, full sovereignty over the territorial sea as well as economic sovereignty over the Exclusive Economic Zone which is among world’s largest,” Chavez affirmed.

“Some people believe that those are autonomous territories. Wealthy sectors and the oligarchy do not event think that it belongs to Venezuela,” he stressed.

Chavez added that the new territory will be named Miranda, in honor of Venezuela’s Independence hero, Francisco de Miranda.

Los Roques is being considered as the first of several options to be the capital of this new insular territory, and the entire zone will have a Chief of Government “who will link the four spaces (islands) and the sea surrounding them. This way, we will be creating a maritime territory with a political body,” explained Chavez.

“We will make this area a political-territorial space, incorporating the disperse, some of them abandoned, virgin islands, and other have been taken over by international crime for smuggling or drug trafficking.”

Chavez went on to explain that the Peninsula of Paraguana, in the northwestern state of Falcon, will have a large influence on this new territory due to its great number of small islands.

From a geopolitical standpoint, “we border Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, French insular territories, even with the United States, since we share borders with Puerto Rico, which is a US colony,” said Chavez.

The Venezuelan president added that a group of civilian and military specialists in geography and geopolitics contributed to the development of this new policy which is a “very significant geopolitical affair that will have even international repercussions.”

Chavez cited articles 10, 11, 16 and 17 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to back the decision of creating said insular territory.

Article 11, for example, states: “The full sovereignty of the Republic is exercised on the continental, and insular spaces, lake and river spaces, territorial sea, historic, vital and inland sea areas, and those lying within such straight baselines as have been adopted or may come to be adopted by the Republic; seabed and under the seabed of the aforementioned; the continental, insular and maritime air space and the resources located within the aforementioned spaces, including genetic resources, migratory species, derived products and any intangible components that may be present within the aforementioned spaces because of natural causes. The insular space of the Republic includes the Archipelago of Los Monjes, Las Aves, Los Roques, La Orchila, La Tortuga, La Blanquilla, Los Hermanos, islands of Margarita, Cubagua and Coche, Los Frailes, La Sola Island, Los Testigos Archipelago, Patos Island and Aves Island, as well as the islands, islets, keys and banks located or coming in the future to emerge from the territorial sea, that covering the continental shelf or that lying within the limits of the exclusive economic zone. As to the water spaces consisting of the contiguous maritime zone, the continental sheaf and the exclusive economic zone, the Republic exercises exclusive rights of sovereignty and jurisdiction on such terms, to such extent and subject to such conditions as may be determined by public international law and national law. The Republic has rights in outer space and in those areas which are or may be the Common Property of Humanity, on such terms, to such extent and subject to such conditions as may be determined by public international agreements and by the national legislation.”

In addition, Article 17 reads: “Federal dependencies are the maritime islands which are not incorporated into the territory of a State, as well as any island that may form or appear in the territorial sea or that covering the continental sheaf. Their regime and administration shall be provided by law.”

Finally Chavez announced that the creation of a second insular territory is being evaluated, which would be composed by the triangle of islands that includes La Tortuga, La Blanquilla and the Archipelago Los Testigos.

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