While the world is shaken right now by no less than 55 military conflicts – a record since the Second World War – the western hemisphere, an area of primary US influence, is also now bracing itself for the prospect of war.
Not many people know much about Guyana, a former British and Dutch colony located on the northeastern coast of South America, eight across the equator line in the Northern Hemisphere.
The dispute with socialist-run Venezuela deals with the Essequibo region, which Guyana insists has frontiers determined by an international arbitration panel in 1899.
Venezuela, on the other hand, claims the Essequibo River to the region’s east forms its natural border recognized as far back as 1777.
The dispute was reignited in 2015 when massive oil reserves were found in the region’s territorial waters.
CBS News reported:
“The United States announced joint military flight drills in Guyana on Thursday as tensions over a contested oil-rich region with neighbor Venezuela prompted the U.N. Security Council to call an urgent meeting.”
The situation escalated after Venezuela conducted a referendum aiming to gain authority over the Essequibo region.
Guyanese troops are preparing to defend its borders in the event case of an invasion.
The US-led military exercises show that Washington is alarmed by the threat from the socialist Venezuelan dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro.
US Embassy in Guyana: “The U.S. will continue its commitment as Guyana’s trusted security partner and promoting regional cooperation and interoperability.”
Guyana’s president, Irfaan Ali, is preparing military assets and readying itself for ‘the worst case scenario’, while hoping it does not come to that.
“‘Our first line of defense is diplomacy’, Ali told CBS News, adding that Guyana has reached out to leaders abroad, including in the U.S., India and Cuba, hoping that ‘they can encourage Venezuela to do what is right, and ensure that they do not act in a reckless or adventurous manner that could disrupt the peace within this zone’.
The U.S. also called for peaceful diplomacy this week, with State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller saying in a statement, ‘We would urge Venezuela and Guyana to continue to seek a peaceful resolution of their dispute. This is not something that will be settled by a referendum’.”
“U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a phone call Wednesday with Guyanese President Ali, reaffirmed the United States’ ‘unwavering support for Guyana’s sovereignty’ and called for a peaceful resolution.”
On Wednesday, a Guyanese army helicopter with seven people on board was reported missing near the border, but there was ‘no information to suggest’ that Venezuela had been involved.
Venezuela also confirmed the arrest, back in October, of an American citizen — Savoi Jadon Wright — accused of conspiring with oil giant ExxonMobil to stop the referendum.
The other regional player to watch in this crisis is, of course, Brazil, neighbor to both countries.
“Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Saturday expressed to his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro growing concern over a territorial dispute between Venezuela and Guyana, Brazil’s presidential palace said in a statement.
In a phone call from Maduro to Lula, the Brazilian president called for dialogue, stating that it was important to avoid unilateral measures that could escalate the situation.
Lula also suggested that the pro tempore president of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) — Ralph Gonsalves, prime minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines — should address the issue.”