Guyana and Venezuela at loggerheads as the latter builds up military near border

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The dispute between Guyana and Venezuela over the mineral rich region of Essequibo continues to intensify as Venezuela builds up military positions along the border. This development came at the heels of Venezuela accusing Guyana of issuing illegal concessions for the exploration of oil wells in the dispute region.

Venezuela has also stated that the nation reserves the right to take any form of diplomatic action in the current scenario to counter what it considers a breach of the agreement between the two nations.

Guyana has also taken a strong stance against Venezuela in this regard, while producing images captured by satellites, which show Venezuela’s military build up and troop movements along the border.

Intriguingly, Venezuela has not denied this at all, to the contrary, Venezuelan authorities have stated that building up infrastructure and military installations along the border to secure it is well within their rights.

Venezuela believes that it has not violated any agreements or laws by doing so, while Guyana has done so by granting “illegal oil concessions … in a maritime area that is indisputably Venezuelan”.

The American oil and gas giant, ExxonMobil has stated unequivocally that it will continue to improve upon production numbers in Guyana’s offshore fields despite the dispute and the threat of conflict looming over the region.

The dispute, which spans the better part of a century, has taken a new turn recently as Venezuela reignited tensions between the two nations by laying claim to the mineral rich region of Essequibo.

The International Court of Justice has sided with Guyana, asking Venezuela to maintain the status quo and refrain from attacking Guyana’s sovereign territory but has failed to change Venezuela’s stance on the matter.

The influence of the United States, which has a tenuous relationship with Venezuela, having sanctioned the nation once more recently, has also had an impact on the dispute. Guyana is collaborating with the United States Military apparatus in the region to improve its armed forces in terms of infrastructure, technology and training.

This is expected to allow Guyana to face Venezuela on level terms, as the latter has a larger military which is better equipped and suited to dealing with a conflict between the two.

Naturally, these developments have caught the attention of Venezuela and the Nicholas Maduro led government of the nation is mighty displeased.

The build-up of troops and infrastructure along Guyana’s border is being considered a reaction to the aforementioned factors which are hindering Venezuela’s attempts to wrest Essequibo from Guyana.

Understandably, Guyana does not wish to lose Essequibo, not just because the region makes up two-thirds of Guyana’s entire land mass but also because the area is laden with natural resources that could be of great benefit to the nation if it chooses to tap into them.

The fact that a major portion of the nation’s population also resides in the region that is otherwise mostly unexplored, adds a human element to the dispute that Venezuela seems ill-equipped to deal with.

Besides the various regional partners that are involved in this dispute, nations such as the United Kingdom are also playing their part as things unfold.

The United Kingdom was chastised by Venezuela for sending a naval vessel to Guyana recently, for what were described as routine exercises in the region, which became another bone of contention between Guyana and Venezuela.

It is interesting to note that both sides have accused the other of violating the Argyle Agreement, which was signed in St Vincent and the Grenadines. High ranking representatives of both nations were brought together in December by their South American and Caribbean partners for peace talks to ensure that the dispute does not devolve into a conflict.

Even though the two nations agreed not to threaten each other or use force against each other, the situation has been on a downward trajectory since then, raising concerns about regional security.

The latest spat between Guyana and Venezuela came right after the US Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) posted images captured via satellites in the region, showing Venezuela expanding its base on the Ankoko Island.

For reference, Venezuela had seized half of the island from Guyana in the mid-1960s. Venezuela is employing a very similar approach to Punta Barima as well, which is a mere 80 kms away from the border with Guyana.

Venezuela has been quick and concise in its attempts to improve the road network in and around the two areas and has also established facilities to support the military in the region.

Robert Persaud, the Foreign Secretary of Guyana, stated the following, “Guyana will continue to respect the Argyle Declaration and hopes that Venezuela will do the same.”

Guyana firmly believes that the border that was demarcated in 1899 by an international boundary commission, settled the issue between the two nations in a definitive manner.
Venezuela has countered this narrative by stating that the commission wrongfully took Essequibo and handed it to Guyana.

President Irfaan Ali and President Nicholas Maduro are expected to meet in March for a summit similar to the one held in St Vincent and the Grenadines previously.

Venezuela has also been irked by the fact that several high-ranking officials from the United States administration and military have visited Guyana in recent week. This is being seen as a sign of deepening ties between the two nations which are now collaborating on both the military and the geopolitical front.

The United States has also supplied Guyana with information about the military movements of Venezuela by making use of surveillance flights over the region, which has helped Guyana manage the situation better.

Ana Allen
Ana Allenhttp://writeups24.com
Anna Allen, news writer at Writeups24, is a Harvard graduate with a passion for journalism. With her keen eye for detail and insatiable curiosity, she captures the essence of global stories. Anna's writing informs and delves into cultural nuances. To reach Anna, you can email contact@writeups24.com

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