Satellite images have shown that Venezuela is increasing its military presence near the border with Guyana and sending troops to the jungle frontier, as President Nicolás Maduro escalates his declarations to annex the neighboring country, which is rich in oil resources.
During mediation discussions in December, Maduro promised not to engage in military action against his neighboring country. However, recent images shared by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington indicate a significant increase in military presence.
Christopher Hernandez-Roy, the vice director of the Americas program at CSIS, stated: “While the Venezuelan foreign minister is in talks with Guyanese diplomats, the Venezuelan military is simultaneously practicing tank maneuvers dangerously close to Guyana. This situation suggests that Maduro is actively pursuing a deceitful strategy.”
Venezuela has long laid claim to the resource-rich Essequibo region, which makes up two-thirds of Guyana, but Maduro has ramped up the country’s claim to the disputed territory in recent months.
After a period of extensive campaigning, a vote was held in December where Maduro claimed that the Venezuelan population supported forcefully taking control of the large jungle area.
The footage from above reveals that even though Venezuelan diplomats later held a meeting with their Guyanese counterparts to ease tensions in the region, the Venezuelan military still deployed tanks and patrol boats equipped with missiles to the border.
CSIS cautions in its report about the escalating conflict that Venezuela’s aggressive actions could lead to miscalculation and loss of control over the situation on the ground.
The disagreement is currently being resolved through arbitration at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. However, Maduro is seeking to ignore the decision of the UN court and directly negotiate with Guyana.
Experts viewed Maduro’s aggressive posturing as a way to gain backing for the upcoming elections, but have also proposed that it may be a tactic to coerce Guayana into splitting profits from recent oil findings.
Despite having some of the largest deposits in the world, Venezuela’s economy has experienced a collapse over the past decade.
According to Hernandez-Roy, it appears that Maduro’s actions may have initially been motivated by domestic concerns, but his current strategy is to pressure the Guyanese into making concessions.
This week, Brazil increased its military presence at its border with Guyana and Venezuela due to rising tensions in the region. Additionally, the US has agreed to provide Guyana with new aircraft, helicopters, military drones, and radar technology to strengthen their defense.
Officials from Guyana will hold a meeting with leaders of the Caricom political organization to address their reaction alongside their allies from the Caribbean.