The United Kingdom announced on Sunday the deployment of a military patrol ship in support of Guyana, in the midst of a crisis on the Essequibo, an oil-rich territory claimed by Venezuela, which reacted by denouncing a “provocation”.
“HMS Trent will visit Guyana, our regional ally and Commonwealth partner this month for a series of engagements in the region,” the British Ministry of Defense said in a statement, without further details. details.
According to the BBC, the patrol boat must participate in military maneuvers after Christmas with other unspecified allies of the former British colony, for whom London had already shown its support by dispatching its Secretary of State for the Americas, David. Rutley.
HMS Trent, usually based in the Mediterranean, was sent to the Caribbean at the beginning of December to fight drug trafficking.
The Minister of Defense of Venezuela, Vladimir Padrino López, reacted by denouncing a “provocation”.
“A warship […] ? After that ? And the commitment to goodwill and peaceful coexistence? And what about the promise not to resort to threats and not to use force in any circumstances,” he wrote on the social network Guyana’s counterpart Irfaan Ali during their meeting on December 14.
“We remain on alert in the face of these provocations which pose a risk to the peace and stability of the Caribbean,” added the minister.
Some 125,000 people, or a fifth of Guyana’s population, live in Essequibo, which covers two-thirds of the country’s land area.
Venezuela maintains that the Essequibo River should be the natural border, as in 1777 during the time of the Spanish Empire. Guyana argues that the border, dating from the English colonial era, was ratified in 1899 by an arbitration court in Paris.
Tension rose after the launch of oil tenders by Guyana in September, then the referendum organized in response on December 3 in Venezuela on the annexation of the Essequibo, a territory of 160,000 km2 rich in oil and natural resources, administered by Georgetown and claimed by Venezuela.
Guyanese President Irfaan Ali and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro met Dec. 15 in a summit that helped ease the pressure — pledging not to use force — but did not resolve the dispute, with both countries sticking to their positions.