Guyana asks Venezuela to explain troop buildup; informs international, regional partners

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 October 2023, 17:19 by Denis Chabrol

As Venezuela deployed 150 soldiers near their border with Guyana, Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd asked the Venezuelan Ambassador to Guyana to explain the movement of troops near the border between the two countries that are embroiled in a territorial controversy.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry said though the Venezuelan Ambassador, Carlos Amador Pérez Silva claimed that the mobilisation of troops was geared towards curbing illegal mining, Georgetown has shared the information with regional and international partners.

“The Government of Guyana remains on guard and has nevertheless shared the increased military activities by Venezuela taking place on its border with CARICOM Heads and other international partners,” the Foreign Affairs Ministry said.

The usually credible Conflict News Worldwide reported that “150 Venezuelan soldiers from REDIMAIN (Strategic Region of Integral Maritime and Insular Defense) set off yesterday (Monday) heading for the Esequibo border to reinforce and ‘occupy territorial security bases’ along the border region.”

A resident of Eteringbang on Wednesday told Demerara Waves Online News that for several days now, he has been seeing the increased presence of Venezuelan soldiers on the Venezuelan side of the Cuyuni River but he was unsure about the reasons for the troop buildup.

The Guyana government said it has taken “careful note of the various social media posts” which have reported the ‘mobilization of increased personnel and execution of military exercises by Venezuelan troops in close vicinity to our borders.

“The Government wishes to advise that every piece of information is taken seriously and is being examined in detail. The Guyana Defence Force has also been reviewing these reports,” the Foreign Affairs Ministry added.

Even as Guyana awaits a decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legality of the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award that settled the land border with Venezuela; the United States, Organisation of American States, Commonwealth of the United Kingdom and former British colonies and Brazil have all solidly supported Guyana’s right to exploit its natural resources in its existing borders.

Tensions boiled 0ver within the past month after Guyana auctioned 14 offshore oil blocks, a decision that Venezuela said should not have been done without its permission because the maritime boundary has not been delimited.  Over the years, Venezuela had intercepted seismic research vessels in offshore oil concessions and had objected to the establishment of Omai and Aurora gold mines and the Beal Aerospace project, but investors had hardly been scared away.

Guyana last month bluntly rejected a previously stated accusation that the United States was planning to set up a military base here to attack Venezuela.