Brazil gets nervous as Venezuela will hold military exercises off its shores in response.
Early in December, I reported that a small number of Venezuelans went to the polls to approve a referendum called by the government of President Nicolás Maduro to claim sovereignty over a resource-rich area of neighboring Guyana, arguing that the region was stolen when the border was drawn more than a century ago.
Subsequently, Vice-President Bharrat Jagdeo said that Guyana would remain vigilant, and the United Nations’ top court ordered Venezuela to stop any action that would alter Guyana’s control over a disputed territory.
A British warship has arrived in Guyana as part of a military exercise. British officials are also pushing back against Venezuela’s claims to Essequibo, an oil-rich area within the region.
The HMS Trent’s visit led Venezuela to begin military exercises a day earlier in the eastern Caribbean near its border with Guyana as the Venezuelan government presses its claim to a huge swath of its smaller neighbor.
…The dispute is over Essequibo, a sparsely populated region that is the size of Florida and rich in oil and minerals. Venezuela has long claimed it was cheated out of the territory when Europeans and the U.S. set the border.
The U.K. Defense Ministry has said that the ship is visiting Guyana as part of a series of engagements in the region and that the vessel will conduct training exercises with Guyana’s military.
On its account on X, formerly Twitter, the ship posted photos of sailors welcoming Britain’s ambassador to Guyana and the chief of staff of Guyana’s Defense Force, Brig. Gen. Omar Khan. They were hosted at a formal lunch and provided with a tour of the ship’s capabilities.
Today we were privileged to welcome onboard the Chief Of Defence Staff for Guyana, Brigadier Omar Khan, the British High Commissioner to Guyana, Mrs Jane Miller OBE, and a number of other dignitaries. @RoyalNavy @Janemiller37 #TeamTrent #FwdDeployed pic.twitter.com/jWE5jGK8Dp
— HMS Trent (@HMSTrent) December 29, 2023
In response, Maduro is claiming the arrival of HMS Trent is a threat to Venezuela and has ordered military exercises in response.
In a nationally televised address on Thursday, Maduro said that 6,000 Venezuelan troops, including air and naval forces, will conduct joint operations off the nation’s eastern coast — near the border with Guyana.
Maduro described the impending arrival of British ship HMS Trent to Guyana’s shores as a “threat” to his country. He argued the ship’s deployment violates a recent agreement between the South American nations.
“We believe in diplomacy, in dialogue and in peace, but no one is going to threaten Venezuela,” Maduro said in a room where he was accompanied by a dozen military commanders. “This is an unacceptable threat to any sovereign country in Latin America.
Maduro orders the Venezuelan military to conduct ‘defensive actions’ in the Atlantic in response to the arrival of the British Royal Navy patrol vessel HMS Trent arriving in Guyana’s waters.
5000 Venezuelan troops are called uo for exercises pic.twitter.com/hWkelhG0xf
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) December 29, 2023
Neighboring Brazil is getting nervous about the military maneuvers.
“The Brazilian government believes that military demonstrations of support for any party must be avoided, so that the ongoing dialogue process can produce results,” the Brazilian foreign ministry said in a statement. It urged all parties to “contain themselves” and resume talks.
…Western diplomats have urged the government of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has maintained friendly relations with Maduro, to ease tensions in the Guyana border dispute.
Brazil said on Friday the “Argyle Declaration for Dialogue and Peace” signed by Guyana and Venezuela on Dec. 14 was “a milestone in efforts to peacefully address the issue.”
“The two countries also agreed to cooperate to avoid incidents on the ground and unilateral measures that could lead to an escalation of the situation,” Brazil’s statement said.
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