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Venezuela Moves “Substantial Quantities” of Troops to Guyana Border

Venezuela has moved “substantial quantities of [military] personnel and equipment to the border with Guyana amid its territorial dispute over the Essequibo region.

The update comes from the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C., which this week released a report on the latest developments in the Venezuela-Guyana dispute.

The think tank talks about an expansion of a military base on Anacoco Island in the area, with new roads and a bridge getting built in the past few months. A local airport is also being expanded, CSIS also said, citing satellite imagery and social media posts.

According to the report’s authors, the activity could be preparation for a “manufactured crisis” before or after Venezuela’s next elections, set to take place in late July.

The Essequibo region encompasses about two-thirds of Guyana’s territory and is where most of its oil resources lie, and the site of massive discoveries and new production by Exxon and partners.

The International Court of Justice previously ruled that Essequibo is part of Guyana, although this is still not recognized by Venezuela. A written agreement was penned in December between the two that denounced the use of force, instead calling for a commission to address the disputes.

However, after a December referendum, in which Venezuelans overwhelmingly voted that Essequibo is part of their country, the government pushed with its annexation attempt. The buildup of troops began in February this year and prompted expectations of an imminent military conflict.

At the time, Caracas said it had the right to shore up its borders in response to U.S. military exercises in Guyana toward the end of the year and the presence of a UK anti-narcotics vessel that is in Guyanese waters. The Venezuelan government has also criticized Exxon for depending on the U.S. military for its security and for its exploitation of Guyana’s oil resources.

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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