Guyana to upgrade military with US assistance,amid tension with Venezuela

The Government of Guyana, under the leadership of President Irfaan Ali is seeking United States assistance in making improvements to the nation’s military and bringing significant reforms to its structure, so as to make sure that the nation can ensure its safety as the border dispute with Venezuela continues to evolve rapidly.

Guyana looks to upgrade military with US assistance maid tensions with Venezuela. Picture Credits: Google Images
Guyana looks to upgrade military with US assistance maid tensions with Venezuela. Picture Credits: Google Images

The Government of Guyana, under the leadership of President Irfaan Ali is seeking United States assistance in making improvements to the nation’s military and bringing significant reforms to its structure, so as to make sure that the nation can ensure its safety as the border dispute with Venezuela continues to evolve rapidly.

The reason behind these measures is the quite justifiable worry that Venezuela might make an attempt to annex the disputed Essequibo region, thus laying claim to the vast mineral reserves of the region, stripping Guyana of two-thirds of the nation’s entire land mass in the process.

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The Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Western Hemisphere, Daniel P. Erikson, has been engaged in discussions regarding Guyana’s defence and security, reiterating the value of the security partnership that the United States has built with the nation.

His interactions with leading representatives of the government of Guyana have been quite fruitful for both parties. Following the conclusion of the talks on Tuesday, Daniel P. Erikson confirmed that the United States and Guyana are aiming to better equip and structure the latter’s defense forces in the near future.

Without furnishing too many details, Daniel P. Erikson stated that the specialized training teams and influx of security forces that have been coming to Guyana via the United States will continue in 2024 as well, with the shared regional security goals of both nations in mind.

According to reports from the interactions between the representatives of both nations, Guyana is seeking the support of the United States in modernizing its defensive capabilities, as well as focusing on cyber security, which is recognized as an essential part of any well-rounded armed force in today’s day and age.

Erikson stated the following, while speaking to the media, “One thing of great interest to us is ensuring that as Guyana looks to increase its defence capacities, it does so through a plan that is strategic, nested in its overall defence institutions, and sustainable over time”

He added that through his interactions with Guyanese representatives, he had gained important insights into what Guyana requires to realise its ambitions in this regard and that the United States sees the initiative as an important step in ensuring the security of Guyana and by extension, the security of the entire region on the whole.

Erikson added that, “We are looking forward to working with them, especially deepening information sharing. We do recognise that Guyana’s at a turning point in terms of its own economic development, in terms of the regional role that it is capable of playing, and so we want to make sure that our defence relationship with Guyana continues to meet the times as the situation in Guyana continues to evolve.”

These developments are of great significance to leaders and observers in the region as Guyana and Venezuela continue to grapple with the resurfacing of a dispute over Essequibo that goes back more than a century.

The issue is of such importance that it involves multiple entities apart from the two nations themselves. With regional partners in the Caribbean and South America on edge and support being extended from the United States and the United Kingdom to Guyana, the matter has the attention of the entire world at this point.

Interestingly, the International Court of Justice has also taken up the matter, having issued measures for the benefit of Guyana against Venezuela’s possible annexation of Essequibo. Having said that, the ICJ has not issued a definitive judgement on the matter as yet.

To complicate the issue, the two nation’s leaders and high ranking representatives met in St Vincent and the Grenadines, joined by South American and CARICOM leaders to draft the Joint Declaration of Argyle following a fruitful round of peace talks.

Even though this was seen to have reduced tensions between the two nations, the arrival of the HMS Trent, a Royal Navy ship, to the shores of Guyana for a routine exercise, raised tensions between President Irfaan Ali and President Nicholas Maduro once again.

In response to this perceived threat President Maduro initiated defensive exercises along the border with Guyana, leading to worries regarding the border security of Guyana.

This chain of events is seen as one of the primary reasons behind the switch of tact that Guyana is now displaying in a military sense.

Understandably, Guyana wishes to ensure that it has the capability to withstand the pressure that Venezuela could put on it, especially considering the fact that Venezuela is known to have a much larger and better equipped standing army than Guyana.

Despite the support of major international powers in the form of the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as several regional partners in the Caribbean and South America, Guyana feels the need to make sure that the nation bolsters its capacity to defend itself.

The question this raises is whether the upgrade in Guyana’s defensive capabilities will act as an effective deterrent against Venezuela, or be perceived as a direct threat leading to an open conflict that the region can ill afford.

One of the most important factors to consider in this situation is that many nations in the Caribbean and South America enjoy amicable relations with both nations and would be profoundly affected by a conflict in the region. Thus, it is in the interest of most parties to bring the dispute to a peaceful resolution.

What is now to be seen is whether this shall come to pass, or will Guyana and Venezuela bring the region into a mutually destructive conflict over the mineral rich land of Essequibo.