Brazil bolsters military presence on border with Venezuela and Guyana

Tensions loom between neighboring nations on the Essequibo region

Published on 01/12/2023 - 10:01 By Lucas Pordeus León - Agência Brasil - Brasília

Brazil has escalated its military presence along its northern border in response to heightened tensions between Venezuela and Guyana. The move comes as Venezuelans prepare to vote in a referendum on November 3 regarding Venezuela's claims over the Essequibo region, constituting about two-thirds of the former British colony's current territory.

Brazil's Ministry of Defense, monitoring the situation closely, issued a statement indicating an “intensification of defense actions in the northern border region to bolster military presence.”

The disputed territory, spanning 160,000 km² with a population of 120,000, has been a contentious issue since 1899 when it was ceded to Great Britain during its control of Guyana. Despite this historical decision, Venezuela refuses to recognize it, maintaining the region as "in dispute."

The Geneva Agreement brokered by the United Nations in 1966, post-Guyana's independence, designates the region as "to be negotiated." This area, believed to possess vast oil reserves, has become a focal point of contention.

The Secretary for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Gisela Maria Figueiredo Padovan, stated on Thursday (30) that Brazil is following the dispute in the region with concern.

"We highly appreciate the prevailing peace and cooperation in South America amidst global military conflicts. However, we express concern over the current tense situation between two neighboring and friendly countries. Our close monitoring and high-level discussions underscore our commitment to addressing these issues. Notably, the Brazilian government's special advisor, Ambassador Celso Amorim, engaged in discussions in Venezuela to address the matter."

Padovan emphasized Brazil's commitment to avoiding military conflicts in the region. The nation acknowledges that Venezuela's upcoming referendum is an internal matter and advocates for a resolution through diplomatic means. She highlighted Brazilian diplomacy's support for dialogue, whether through bilateral negotiations or the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which declared jurisdiction over the case in April this year.

Guyana sought an injunction with the ICJ to halt the referendum scheduled for this Sunday (3). Nevertheless, Venezuela refuses to acknowledge the International Court's jurisdiction in this matter, asserting the 1966 Geneva Agreement as the sole legitimate instrument for resolving the dispute.

In September, as reported by Reuters news agency, Venezuela lodged a protest against an oil bidding round conducted by Guyana. The objection stems from the contention that the maritime areas earmarked for exploration by multinational corporations like Exxon Mobil (United States) and TotalEnergies (France) are integral to the ongoing dispute between the two nations.

Translation: Mário Nunes -  Edition: Sabrina Craide

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