Venezuela Sends 6,000 Troops to Guyana Border, Says They’ll Stay Until British Warship Leaves

Maduro Argues British Violating Deal with Guyana and Disavows ICJ Jurisdiction in Matter

Tensions over the fate of Guyana’s Essequibo region continue to rise with reports Venezuela is deploying some 6,000 troops into the border region to conduct exercises over the disputed region. The deployment is in response to Britain’s deployment of the HMS Trent off the Guyana coast.

President Maduro argued the British arrival violates an extent deal between Guyana and Venezuela and constitutes a threat to both Venezuela and a violation of Latin American sovereignty.

Britain was critical of the Venezuelan exercises and demanded they cease. The HMS Trent is a relatively small ship, a River-Class patrol vessel with a complement of an estimated 34-45. Britain described the deployment as part of a series of regional engagements.

The Essequibo tensions were fueled largely by the early December referendum by Venezuela calling to annex the region after the discovery of oil reserves. The sparsely populated territory’s ownership is a long-standing dispute, and it amounts to most of Guyana’s overall land mass. The question of Essequibo’s legal fate was referred to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), though Venezuela has rejected their jurisdiction on the matter.

Britain claimed the region for itself in a tribunal with the US in 1899 and granted it to Guyana in 1966 upon its independence from Britain.

As a party to the deal, the US has become increasingly involved in the Guyana dispute, conducting flight operations in the area. The flights are referred to as a “joint operation.” US interest in the region may center both on failed attempts to impose regime change on Venezuela and on Exxon Mobil’s discovery of the region’s oil. Exxon Mobil is presently attempting to exploit the offshore oil reserves.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.