A person votes in the mock referendum on Essequibo held in Venezuela on November 19, prior to the referendum on December 3. (Credit: FEDERICO PARRA/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNN Español) -- Venezuelan citizens are scheduled to vote on December 3 in the referendum on Venezuela's dispute over the Essequibo territory, which has been in dispute with Guyana since the late <>th century.

This referendum seeks to define the possible strategies that Venezuela will assume in defense of that territory in dispute with Guyana, but it will not consult whether or not the Essequibo territory belongs to Venezuela.

Following Venezuela's call for a referendum, Guyana asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) — the main judicial body of the United Nations (UN) — to stop it "in its current form."

Guyana argued before the ICJ on Nov. 14 that the referendum Venezuela intends to hold on Dec. 3 poses a threat to the dispute between the two countries.

Meanwhile, the executive vice president of Venezuela, Delcy Rodríguez, assured the ICJ that "Venezuelans have the right to consult and listen to each other. No one can deny or divide this right."


Rodriguez also denounced that Guyana has granted oil and gas concessions in Essequibo, a territory pending delimitation, without caring that it is acting contrary to the law.

  • Venezuela does not recognize jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice to resolve dispute with Guyana over the Essequibo

According to the UN, Essequibo is a "region of more than 200,000 square kilometers and rich in minerals," including oil.

In the midst of this geopolitical tension, Venezuela is preparing to go to the polls.

How to vote in the referendum on the Essequibo dispute between Guyana and Venezuela?

The referendum, which will consist of five questions, will be held on Sunday, December 3, the day on which a total of 20,694,124 Venezuelans are eligible to vote, according to Venezuela's National Electoral Council (CNE).

Voting will be open that day from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. (local time), according to the referendum's electoral schedule.

Likewise, the CNE indicates that on that day there will be a total of 15,857 voting centers and 28,027 polling stations.

The President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, announced in his program "ConMaduro+" the voting procedure:

  • First, find out which polling place you have to cast your ballot at. The Venezuelan government has not yet published an official list of the centers, but you can check your electoral information on the CNE website with your identity card number.
  • Then, at your polling place, you will be asked for your ID. The only valid document for voting is an identity card. During that process, you'll also be asked to put your right thumb into a machine to validate your fingerprint.
  • You will then go to the voting machine to cast your vote. There you will be presented one by one with the five questions of the referendum and you will have to vote "Yes" or "No". At the end of this, you will receive your five answers for you to verify and you will complete your vote by pressing "Vote". You'll have three minutes to complete this step.
  • The machine will print out the record of your five answers, and you will then deposit that receipt in the ballot box.
  • That's it, your vote is complete. According to the election schedule, the official results will be published between December 8 and January 6.

What are the questions?

At the end of October, the CNE approved the five questions of the referendum. They are as follows:

1. Do you agree to reject, by all means, in accordance with law, the line fraudulently imposed by the Paris Arbitral Award of 1899, which seeks to deprive us of our Guiana Essequiba?

Venezuela refers to Essequibo as "Guyana Essequiba". With this question, a consensus is sought to reject in the country the Paris Arbitral Award of 1899, in which, according to the Venezuelan Government, "the United States, on behalf of Venezuela on the one hand, and the United Kingdom, as owner of the colony of British Guiana, now the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, on the other, they would have agreed to submit to international arbitration the dispute over the border west of the British colony and the east of independent Venezuela. The ruling was favorable to the United Kingdom by awarding it the territory called by Venezuela as Guayana Esequiba."

2. Do you support the Geneva Agreement of 1966 as the only valid legal instrument to reach a practical and satisfactory solution for Venezuela and Guyana regarding the dispute over the territory of Guyana Essequiba?

According to Vice President Delcy Rodríguez, Venezuela recognizes the Geneva Agreement, signed in 1966 with the United Kingdom (before Guyanese independence), as the only legal instrument to resolve the dispute.

The Government of Venezuela points out that this agreement "recognizes the defense of the legitimate and inalienable rights over the Essequibo territory."

3. Do you agree with Venezuela's historical position of not recognizing the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice to resolve the territorial dispute over Guyana Essequiba?

The ICJ declared itself competent to resolve the dispute; however, with question 3, Venezuela seeks to reaffirm its point of not recognizing the jurisdiction of the Court to resolve the dispute.

4. Do you agree to oppose, by all means, in accordance with the law, Guyana's claim to unilaterally dispose of a pending sea to be delimited, illegally and in violation of international law?

As Rodriguez mentioned before the ICJ, Venezuela says that Guyana has granted oil and gas concessions in Essequibo, a territory that has yet to be demarcated, regardless of the fact that it is acting contrary to the law.

5. Do you agree with the creation of the state of Guayana Esequiba and the development of an accelerated plan for the comprehensive care of the current and future population of that territory, which includes, among others, the granting of Venezuelan citizenship and identity cards, in accordance with the Geneva Agreement and international law, consequently incorporating that state into the map of Venezuelan territory?

In the final question, Venezuela will ask its voters about the creation of a new state in the country called Guyana Esequiba, and about drawing up an "accelerated plan" to integrate its present and future population into that of the South American nation.

With information from Ivonne Valdés.