Guyana’s President Readies Defense Against Venezuelan Threats

( – On Dec. 6, Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali stated that the country is preparing to defend its Essequibo region from Venezuela, which ordered its state-owned companies to explore the region and exploit its minerals and oils.

Guyana considers the Essequibo region, which makes up two-thirds of the country, its own. To protect Essequibo, Ali stated the government of Guyana is reaching out to its regional partners. It has also contacted its allies, including the U.S., France, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and the UN secretary general. The government has also talked with the US Southern Command, which is responsible for overseeing the military operations of Central and South America and the Caribbean. President Ali stated Guyana was taking the “threat very seriously” and “precautionary measures had been initiated.

Ali’s comments come one day after Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro stated that he would grant operating licenses for exploitation and exploration in the region immediately. Maduro also ordered local subsidiaries of Venezuelan public companies to be created, including subsidiaries of the oil giant PDVSA and the mining conglomerate Corporación Venezolana de Guayana.

Maduro stated that a Comprehensive Defense Operational Zone, similar to the special military commands that operate in Venezuela, had also been created for the region.

Though Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world, economic sanctions imposed by the United States and mismanagement have harmed the PDVSA and its subsidiaries.

Venezuela rejects the border drawn in 1899 by international arbitrators and insists the Essequibo region still belongs to Venezuela.

Ali said that Venezuela’s announcements “are in full defiance of international law.” He added that Guyana is “building a regional response” to be used if Venezuela proceeds “to act in this reckless and adventurous manner.” He said the region’s stability and peaceful coexistence could be severely disrupted by the actions of Venezuela’s government.

Venezuela’s government accused Guyana of acting irresponsibly and stated it had allegedly permitted the U.S. Southern Command to enter the Essequibo region.

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