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Guyanese put on alert as Venezuela continues troop build-up

In the wake of Venezuela’s build-up of military personnel and equipment near the border with Guyana, the Guyana government Tuesday night called on Guyanese at home and in that neighbouring country to be alert.

“Guyanese citizens close to the border with Venezuela are urged to be alert to this development and are further urged to remain within the boundaries of Guyana. 

Guyanese in other communities are requested to remain calm as the Government of Guyana continues to monitor this situation and will provide updates if and when it becomes necessary.

Word of the troop movement surfaced as President David Granger was preparing to travel to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly and tell UN Chief Ban Ki Moon again that Guyana wants to settle the border controversy over the mineral and forest-rich Essequibo Region at the World Court because the 23-year old UN mediation process has not been fruitful. Guyana maintains that the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award fully, finally and perfectly settled the land border with Venezuela.

The administration of President David Granger also urged Guyanese living in Venezuela to remain calm, and urged citizens of this former British colony to stop using illegal crossing to get in and out of that neighbouring Spanish-speaking country. “Guyanese are urged to only utilize legal ports of entry into and out of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela if they must travel to or from that neighbouring State,” said the Guyana government in a statement.

The statement was issued at the end of Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting that was briefed by the police and military chiefs. “The Government of Guyana is concerned about this unannounced and unexplained build-up of military forces close to Guyana’s border and waters and is closely monitoring this development,” government said.

Citing “informed reports” of the massing of military personnel and equipment on the border with Guyana, government said President Granger was fully briefed.

Guyana said it remained committed to the principle of peaceful co-existence as laid down in the United Nations Charter and cautioned that any violation would result in “serious consequences.”  “Guyana remains committed to that principle and would regard any act that is not consistent with that principle as a breach of international law that will result in serious consequences.”

Venezuela’s Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said the troop buildup, which Guyana had noticed with concern, was an “operational deployment exercise.”

He said Venezuelans could rest assured “because we are really preparing ourselves … even with all the fronts we face today,” alluding to simultaneous border tensions with Guyana and Colombia.

Guyana said it was concerned about that unannounced and unexplained build-up of military forces close to Guyana’s border and waters and was closely monitoring that development.

Dating back to May when Venezuela unilaterally extended its maritime boundary to take in all the Atlantic sea off Essequibo after American oil giant, Exxon-Mobil, announced that it had found a huge oil deposit offshore; the territorial aggression has escalated.

Venezuela recently refused to grant approval to Guyana’s nominee, Cheryl Miles, to be Guyana’s next Ambassador in Caracas. Quite recently, Venezuela is alleged to have convinced Google Maps to rename several street names on the Essequibo Coast.

That country has also announced plans to issue Venezuelan National identification cards to Guyanese born in Essequibo.