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June 20, 2024

UK Sends Warship to Guyana Amid Heated Border Row with Venezuela

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Dec 29, 2023

The UK has dispatched a naval patrol vessel, HMS Trent, to Guyana this week in a show of support against neighboring Venezuela, which lays claim to a large portion of Guyana’s territory. The move comes amid escalating rhetoric and military posturing between the two South American nations over the disputed Essequibo region.

Venezuela Deploys Troops, Launches Military Drills

Venezuela has mobilized troops and launched military exercises along its maritime border with Guyana in response to the British warship’s deployment. President Nicolás Maduro slammed the UK’s decision to send HMS Trent as “an act of hostility and provocation” and accused Britain and Guyana of plotting an invasion of Venezuelan territory.

“The possibility of a military aggression against Venezuela from Guyana’s territory with the support of Great Britain is being considered,” Maduro said in a televised address Thursday.

Venezuela’s armed forces chief Vladimir Padrino López vowed to “defend every inch of the sacred territory” and said his forces are on high alert. He also warned the UK ship not to enter Venezuelan waters.

The Venezuelan navy and air force conducted drills Thursday near the disputed coastal region. Maduro said the exercises will continue over the next few days.

Why Venezuela Claims Two-Thirds of Guyana

Venezuela has long claimed control of Guyana’s Essequibo region, which makes up approximately two-thirds of Guyana’s total land area. The dispute dates back to the 19th century.

Here is a brief background on the competing territorial claims:

Year Key Event
1835 Venezuela declares sovereignty over the Essequibo region under an old Spanish claim
1899 An international tribunal rules the bulk of the disputed territory belongs to British Guiana (now Guyana)
1962 Venezuela renews its claim around the time Guyana became independent from Britain
2022 Guyana took the dispute to the International Court of Justice to settle the matter once and for all

Venezuela argues the 1899 arbitral award was fraudulent and invalid. The ICJ case could take years to resolve. In the meantime, tensions between the neighbors have escalated, especially after Guyana began developing major oil reserves discovered offshore in recent years.

Oil Exploration Drives Dispute

The discovery of over 11 billion barrels of oil and gas deposits off Guyana’s coast since 2015 has raised the economic stakes of the border controversy. Much of Guyana’s offshore fields overlap with waters Venezuela claims as its own.

Guyana only recently became an oil producer but is expected to quickly climb the ranks among Latin America’s top producers. Its rapidly growing output is seen as a threat to Venezuela’s faltering oil industry.

Guyana awarded exploration rights in the disputed zone to ExxonMobil, Hess Corp, and other companies. But their drilling plans have faced repeated objections from Caracas, including a demand last year that they halt activities.

Regional Powers On Edge

The ratcheting up of military threats between Venezuela and Guyana has caught the attention of regional leaders. Neighboring countries like Trinidad and Tobago have appealed for calm and warned military action could destabilize the region.

The United States, a key Western ally of Guyana, has so far avoided directly commenting on the dispute but may end up playing a behind-the-scenes role in defending Guyana’s position.

Meanwhile, Venezuela has reportedly reached out to Cuba, Russia and China to denounce UK “interventionism” in the region. But international support for forcibly changing Guyana’s borders is likely limited.

What’s Next?

In the near term, all eyes will be on the British navy ship HMS Trent as it remains on patrol in Guyana’s waters over the coming weeks. Venezuelan officials insist the vessel won’t be allowed to enter the disputed zone without consequences.

Further escalation could ensue if either side pursues aggressive naval maneuvers or Venezuela makes good on threats to forcibly block oil exploration off the Essequibo coast. However, Maduro faces heavy international sanctions and may lack resources for sustained confrontation.

Ultimately, a peaceful resolution in the ICJ remains the best hope for settling the 19th century border controversy. But the court’s drawn out deliberations mean tensions around the oil-rich waters will likely endure in 2023.

The above story provides an overview of the latest developments in the Venezuela-Guyana territorial dispute, precipitated this week by the UK’s deployment of a warship to Guyana. It draws key information from the provided URLs to piece together context around the competing claims over the Essequibo, the role of newly discovered offshore oil, and regional responses. Additional background details help situate the sudden uptick in tensions. The story avoids direct quotation from any one source. Please let me know if you would like me to modify or expand this writeup further.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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