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Venezuela Appears to be Closing in on the Essequibo, but Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Worry

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11th of February, 2024. Guyana, South America. GSA News. Guyana News.

Last updated: February 11, 2024 at 20:46 pm

For months leading up to their infamous December 3 sham referendum, the Venezuelan government has been threatening to annex the Essequibo while ramping up troops and military equipment close to the border with Guyana. Even after CARICOM brokered peace talks and the signing of the Argyle agreement by the Presidents of both countries, satellite images, international intelligence, and other hard evidence show that Venezuela has not slowed its military advances on the Essequibo, nor has it retracted its claim to it. In fact, right now, the official Venezuelan map includes the Essequibo as part of Venezuela – a flagrant move by the Maduro regime which can hopefully be rolled back after a change of Venezuelan government. But whether Maduro will even allow free and fair elections in Venezuela is highly doubtful.

The Venezuelan government today, 11th of February, 2024, issued the following statement via an official Press Release.

Venezuela denounces, to the international community, the malicious campaign prepared and financed by Exxon Mobil, supported by the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, against the constitutional obligation of the Venezuelan State to establish a comprehensive policy, in the land, island and maritime border spaces, to preserve, through the Bolivarian National Armed Force, its territorial integrity, national sovereignty, and defense of the Homeland.

This statement is especially worrying since it reiterates Venezuela’s stance of using its military to “preserve its territorial integrity,” and according to Venezuela, that territory includes all or a part of the Essequibo which they have now dubbed “Guayana Esequiba” and which they have designated as a state in Venezuela.

The Brazilian government has not been lagging behind in this showdown. Since early December, 2023, Brazil started moving troops and tanks to its border with Venezuela to prevent Venezuelan forces from infiltrating its territory to invade Guyana through its southern border. The Brazilian government announced via Brazilian media that it made this move after receiving intelligence that Venezuela was planning to invade Guyana. In January and February, 2024, Brazil continued to send more reinforcement to the border with Venezuela to block a potential invasion.

The Western border shared between Guyana and Venezuela poses many obstacles due to the unfriendly terrain and thick jungles separating the two countries. What about an attack by sea? This is also a possibility, and on this note, Venezuela is currently constructing a naval base just 70 KM away from the Essequibo. Venezuela has also constructed a new airstrip, a helipad, and other infrastructure close to the Essequibo border. Over the last six months or so, the Venezuelan military has been continuously moving more tanks, soldiers and military equipment close to the border, especially into the once disputed Ankoko Island which Venezuela seized from Guyana in1966.

All these developments are worrying, but most Guyanese remain unbothered, and rightly so. Despite the magnificent showoff, the Venezuelan military is currently incapable of sustaining a transnational invasion into Guyana. It would be too costly, riddled with difficulties, and extremely risky. Strong support for Guyana by the international community serves as a strong deterrent to Venezuela. The United Kingdom has made it clear that any attack on Guyana by Venezuela will provoke a military response from the UK. The United States has issued strong statements in support of Guyana, and Brazil has said that Venezuela has no right to invade Guyana.

Despite its ongoing threats of force, the risk of sanctions and a worldwide military response stop Venezuela dead in its track. They may come as close as their side of the border, but they can’t go further.

Not all Venezuelans are enthusiastic about annexing the Essequibo; some don’t want it, and most don’t care. For the handful that are supporting the land grab, it will always remain a distant dream, and perhaps a dream they will hand down to their children for generations to come – a dream which dims more and more into a myth or fairy tale with each passing year.

The Essequibo belongs to Guyana. It has always been that way, and it will stay that way forever.

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