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Images show Venezuela military buildup along border with oil-rich Guyana

Feb 12

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Tensions are escalating between Venezuela and Guyana over claims to the oil-rich region of Essequibo, with both nations accusing each other of violating a recent peace agreement signed in December. Satellite imagery confirms that Venezuela is strengthening its military operations along the disputed border, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Essequibo has been at the center of a territory debate between the countries for decades. Venezuelan government asserts that the land belongs Venezuela, while Guyana’s government maintains it lies within its borders, a stance supported by its allies, like the U.S. However, Venezuela accuses Guyana’s government of allowing the illegal extraction of oil from Essequibo, according to The Associated Press.

These accusations come after Alistair Routledge, the president of ExxonMobil Guyana, informed reporters that concessions had been made by Guyana’s government and the company remains committed to operations despite rising tensions between Guyana and Venezuela.

“We are not going anywhere,” Routledge told reporters Tuesday, Feb. 6.

Venezuela is also accusing ExxonMobil of exploitation and relying on the American military for support. However, the energy giant reiterated its plans to drill two wells in Essequibo, where three refineries already operate and produce nearly 650,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

Following ExxonMobil’s announcement, satellite images from CSIS confirmed that trees had been cleared near the border of Venezuela and Essequibo by the Venezuelan military, and at least six military vehicles, with additional military personnel, are being stationed along the river boundary.

According to the Wall Street Journal, CSIS imagery additionally revealed Venezuelan forces installing two Russian-made anti-aircraft systems and deploying at least three Iranian-made anti-ship guided-missile patrol boats.

Analysts told The Guardian that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s perceived threats may serve as a tactic to rally support for his reelection campaign or to exert pressure on Guyana to share its oil revenue with Venezuela.

Venezuela’s economy is currently struggling to recover from an economic collapse last decade.

In response to Venezuela’s military buildup along the border, Brazil is reportedly deploying troops along its border with Venezuela and Guyana. The U.S. has also announced plans to send military helicopters, drones and radar technology to Guyana.

Robert Persaud, Guyana’s foreign secretary, contends that Venezuela’s aggressive stance constitutes an unprovoked breach of their peace agreement that was signed in December.

“We are not surprised at the bad faith of Venezuela,” Persaud said. “We are disappointed, not surprised. Guyana has a history of entering into bilateral discussions in good faith. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same for our neighbor to the west.”

According to CNN, speculation of a possible invasion by Venezuela into Guyana reached its highest point yet in December. Venezuelan voters reportedly approved a referendum that declared Essequibo a Venezuelan state. Guyana called the move an “existential threat.”

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[LAUREN TAYLOR]

A TENSE SITUATION CONTINUES TO UNFOLD BETWEEN VENEZUELA AND GUYANA.

BOTH NATIONS ACCUSING EACH OTHER OF BREACHING A PEACE AGREEMENT– AS THEY LAY CLAIM TO A DISPUTED OIL RICH REGION.

SATELLITE IMAGERY SHOWING VENEZUELA BEEFING UP ITS MILITARY OPERATIONS ALONG THE BORDER.

THE LAND IN QUESTION IS [ES-AH-QWEEBOWE] ESSEQUIBO, WHICH HAS BEEN AT THE CENTER OF A HEATED DEBATE BETWEEN THE COUNTRIES FOR DECADES.

VENEZUELA IS NOT DENYING IT’S BOLSTERING ITS ARMED FORCES– INSTEAD DEFENDING IT. CLAIMING THE MOVE IS IN RESPONSE TO ALLEGED ILLEGAL EXTRACTION OF OIL APPROVED BY GUYANA’S GOVERNMENT.

THE PRESIDENT OF EXXONMOBIL GUYANA, TOLD REPORTERS CONCESSIONS TO DRILL WERE GRANTED BY GUYANA’S GOVERNMENT–

AND THE COMPANY IS COMMITTED TO OPERATIONS DESPITE RISING TENSIONS.

THE ENERGY GIANT, SAID IT EXPECTS TO DRILL TWO EXPLORATORY WELLS– WHERE REFINERIES ALREADY PRODUCE NEARLY 650-THOUSAND BARRELS OF CRUDE A DAY.

VENEZUELA’S GOVERNMENT IS ALSO ACCUSING THE ENERGY GIANT OF EXPLOITATION, AND OF RELYING ON THE AMERICAN MILITARY FOR SUPPORT.

SATELLITE PICTURES TAKEN BY THE CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES CONFIRM TREES HAVE BEEN CLEARED OUT NEAR THE BORDER OF ESSEQUIBO BY THE VENEZUELAN ARMY.

AT LEAST SIX MILITARY VEHICLES AND MORE MILITARY PERSONNEL ARE BEING STATIONED AT BASES ALONG THE RIVER BOUNDARY.

C-S-I-S IMAGERY ALSO CAPTURED VENEZUELA SETTING UP TWO RUSSIAN-BUILT ANTI-AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS AND DEPLOYING AT LEAST THREE IRANIAN-MADE ANTI SHIP GUIDED-MISSILE PATROL BOATS. ANALYSTS ALSO SAY THE NATION IS BUILDING A COAST-GUARD POST– ABOUT 50 MILES FROM THE BORDER.

CSIS’S REPORT WARNS, VENEZUELA’S ESCALATORY BEHAVIOR “CREATES OPPORTUNITIES FOR MISCALCULATION AND LOSS OF CONTROL OVER EVENTS ON THE GROUND.”

ANALYSTS TOLD THE GUARDIAN–

PRESIDENT MADURO’S PERCEIVED THREATS– MAY BE A TACTIC TO GARNER SUPPORT FOR HIS RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN AND FORCE GUYANA TO SHARE OIL REVENUE AS VENEZUELA STRUGGLES TO DIG OUT FROM AN ECONOMIC COLLAPSE.

NOW, BRAZIL IS REPORTEDLY DEPLOYING MORE TROOPS TO ITS BORDER WITH THE TWO COUNTRIES.

THE U-S IS HAS ALSO AGREED TO SEND HELICOPTERS, DRONES AND RADAR TECHNOLOGY TO GUYANA.

GUYANA’S FOREIGN SECRETARY CONTENDS VENEZUELA’S AGGRESSIVE STANCE IS AN UNPROVOKED BREACH OF THEIR PEACE AGREEMENT.

GUYANA’S FOREIGN SECRETARY SAID:

“WE ARE NOT SURPRISED AT THE BAD FAITH OF VENEZUELA. WE ARE DISAPPOINTED, NOT SURPRISED. GUYANA HAS A HISTORY OF ENTERING BILATERAL DISCUSSIONS IN GOOD FAITH. UNFORTUNATELY, WE CANNOT SAY THE SAME FOR OUR NEIGHBOR TO THE WEST.”

IN DECEMBER, SPECULATION OF A POSSIBLE INVASION BY VENEZUELA REACHED ITS HIGHEST POINT YET WITH VOTERS APPROVING A REFERENDUM CREATING A VENEZUELAN STATE IN [ES-AH-QWEEBOWE] ESSEQUIBO.

GUYANA CALLED THE MOVE “AN EXISTENTIAL THREAT.”