(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela vowed to respond “proportionally” to Guyana’s “gross violations” after President Irfaan Ali insisted that the country’s legal borders were settled in 1899 and include the territory known as the Essequibo. 

Venezuela Vice President Delcy Rodriguez reiterated Tuesday that her country doesn’t recognize and will never recognize those “fraudulent” limits. “We will never give up defending our rights,” Rodriguez said in a post on X. 

Later, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López said in another post on X that Venezuela was determined to defend its sovereignty “to the last consequences,” and that it was prepared “for any scenario.” 

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Venezuela’s most recent threat comes after Ali said last week that Guyana’s government was “very sure” of its borders. “Investors need not to worry because their investments are clearly in the territorial space of Guyana,” Ali told Bloomberg TV on Feb. 20. 

The neighbors have been disputing their border since the 1800s, with Venezuela claiming everything west of the Essequibo River, about two-thirds of what Guyana considers its territory. The United Nations — after decades of failed bilateral talks and mediation efforts — referred the dispute to the International Court of Justice in 2018. Venezuela hasn’t recognized the ICJ’s jurisdiction.

(Adds Padrino’s comments in third paragraph)

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