Satellite images published by a US think tank show the expansion of a military base on the border with Essequibo, following an agreement in which Venezuela agreed to resolve the territorial dispute through dialogue. Guyana said it was concerned about the movement of Venezuelan troops and weapons near the Essequibo region, an area rich in natural resources claimed by the Caracas regime, after satellite images published on Friday (09/02) by an American research center revealed the movements of President Nicolas Maduro's forces on the border.
According to the report published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, Venezuela is expanding a military base in the region, which contradicts an agreement it signed in December last year in which it committed to resolving the regional conflict through dialogue. , instead of force.
The agreement was signed a few days after Caracas agreed to annex Essequibo – which represents more than two-thirds of Guyana's territory – in a controversial popular referendum, held after Guyana issued licenses to the private sector to explore for oil off the coast. From the area.
Since then, tensions in the region have eased.
“On the same day that the Venezuelan Foreign Minister is meeting with Guyanese diplomats, the Venezuelan army is conducting tank maneuvers just a few meters from Guyana. All this tells us that Maduro is pursuing a questionable policy,” says the agency's interim director. CSIS Americas Program, Christopher Hernandez Rui, referring to the meeting held on January 25 between the two parties in Brasilia, mediated by the Minister of Itamarata, Mauro Vieira.
In satellite images included in the Center for Strategic and International Studies report, it is possible to see open expanses of jungle on Anakoko Island – which belonged to Guyana from 1899 until 1966, when Venezuela took it over, and which is separated from Essequibo by a river. River – as well as building materials, warehouses and ships.
Also according to the institute, videos shared by Venezuelan authorities and military personnel between January 24 and 25 show training in Anacoco, as well as the presence of military arsenals such as armored vehicles and aircraft.
At the beginning of this month, the Brazilian army sent 28 armored vehicles to Roraima to enhance security on the borders with Venezuela and Guyana. Two days later, an American envoy announced during a visit to Guyana the strengthening of bilateral cooperation in the field of defense to preserve the country's borders.
An old dispute
The dispute over Essequibo dates back to the nineteenth century, but it intensified in 2015, with the discovery of large oil reserves off the coast of the region by the American company ExxonMobil, estimated to be equivalent to about 75% of the Brazilian oil reserves. . Last Tuesday, the company announced the drilling of two wells in Essequibo waters.
Fearing military action from Caracas, Georgetown turned to the International Court of Justice in The Hague at the end of last year. The UN's highest court must spend several years analyzing the case before deciding who owns the territory, but it ordered Caracas to refrain from interfering in Essequibo's current situation until then.
However, Maduro does not recognize the ICJ's authority to arbitrate the dispute and wants to negotiate directly with Guyana. Some analysts see this move as a strategy by the Venezuelan president to mobilize his voters, while others suggest this may also be an attempt to pressure Guyana to share the gains from oil exploration.
Commenting on the US think tank report in an interview with Agence France-Presse, Guyana's Foreign Minister, Hugh Todd, said that Caracas' military move on the border is an attempt to force Guyana to abandon the Essequibo trial at the International Court of Justice and “accept Venezuela's preferred approach in bilateral negotiations.” .
ra (AFP, ots)
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