The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) could deploy additional troops and equipment to the border region Guyana shares with Venezuela in light of a display of force by the Venezuelan armed forces, if the need arises.
Speaking to media operatives at the President’s Office on Wednesday, Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, Brigadier Mark Phillips said the deployment would be geared towards defining acts of aggression and incursion at the border.
Troops and equipment could be sent to key locations, including Eteringbang and Kaikan and along the Cuyuni River to monitor activities on Guyana’s frontiers.
Brigadier Phillips said the build-up of troops in Eastern Venezuela commenced over a week ago and was intensified at the weekend.
He said some 200 ground troops have been deployed in an “unusual” manner along with missiles close to the border that the two countries share.
The Chief of Staff said some of the troops and missiles were spotted some 57km from the border while there was a direct deployment of marine troops with machine guns, by Venezuela, in the Cuyuni River, which is inclusive of Guyana’s border.
“We consider this an affront to our sovereignty,” Phillips said as he made it clear that the GDF was alert and ready to deploy additional troops and equipment if necessary.
Meanwhile, Minister of Governance Raphael Trotman has urged Guyanese not to panic and said there is no reason at this point to believe that there will be an invasion by the Venezuelan army.
“Venezuela is well aware that the world is watching… we don’t anticipate any use of force… so far it is a display of force,” Trotman explained.
He said the show of force by Venezuela appears to be more political than military and clarified that neither was Guyana preparing to stage any act of aggression but was taking the necessary precautions.
Mr. Trotman said Venezuela’s actions amounts to grand standing but posited that it will not be ignored.
Meanwhile, Minister of State, Joe Harmon told the media conference that Guyana has activated all mechanisms at the United Nations, CARICOM, UNASUR and OAS to address the development.
He said Guyanese will continue to be updated since “the best form of defence is a mobilized people.”
Guyana is preparing to send a formal correspondence to the Venezuelan authorities on the military build – up and the perceived threat.
The Venezuelan authorities have since said that the activity in the Eastern part of the country was an operational exercise.
Guyana and Venezuela have been embroiled in a border controversy in recent months after the Nicolas Muduro government reignited a decade’s old illegal claim to Guyana’s Essequibo Region and its oil rich maritime space.
Guyana continues to reject Venezuela’s claims and has called for a judicial settlement of the matter. It will form part of Guyana’s considerations at the upcoming UN General Assembly in New York.