Venezuela edges closer to armed conflict with Guyana over resource-rich territory

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Minister for Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge, speaking in parliament

By Youri Kemp
Caribbean News Now associate editor
youri@caribbeannewsnow.com

GEORGETOWN, Guyana — Guyana’s minister for foreign affairs, Carl Greenidge, while speaking in parliament on the recent interdiction by the Venezuelan Navy of ExxonMobil vessels doing seismic surveys in Guyanese waters during the Christmas holidays, also disclosed that, during the incident, the Venezuelan Navy attempted to land a helicopter on one of the ships, the Ramform Tethys, in an attempt to seize the vessel entirely.

The Ramform Tethys, owned by Norwegian company Petroleum Geo-Services Group, flagged in The Bahamas, is a Titan-class, seismic-research platform, designed specifically for conducting seismic research and underwater imaging for oil companies.
ExxonMobil has ceased operations on behalf of the Guyanese government until further notice.

The Ramform Tethys is not a military grade ship; neither is it a surveillance and reconnaissance vessel and was given permission to conduct seismic studies in the Guyana Esequiba river region by the Guyanese government. However, Venezuelan authorities claim that the Ramform was in the Venezuelan claimed Orinoco River Basin — a claim flatly denied by the Guyanese government in Greenidge’s address to the parliament, as the coordinates of the vessels stated clearly where they were at the time of the Venezuelan military’s interception.

Greenidge invited the Venezuelan government, via a diplomatic note to Caracas over this recent incident, to take the border dispute settlement process in the International Court of Justice seriously, and come back to the table in earnest even at this late hour and despite having withdrawn from the process in June 2018, shortly after the Venezuelan presidential elections.

This is not the first time Venezuelan military have made incursions into Guyanese territory in the recent past. On December 3, 2015, and just two days prior to Venezuelan parliamentary elections, a Venezuelan military helicopter landed in the Esequiba region on the Guyanese side, prompting Guyana to complain to Venezuelan authorities and other persons in the international community about this apparent act of aggression.

Military build-up by the Venezuelan government has been growing in the face of American sanctions on President Nicolas Maduro’s regime and in spite of international sanctions and censure by other countries, particularly the Netherlands and their territories in the Caribbean.

The recent landing of Russian bombers with nuclear payload capabilities in Venezuela, equipment Venezuelan authorities said was meant for their self-defence against aggression against Venezuelan sovereignty, was met with dismay and concern by military and security analysts in the region, as the Maduro regime continues to dissolve into uncontrollable chaos.

With the massive number of refugees still fleeing the humanitarian, economic and political crisis in Venezuela to other countries, particularly into Guyana, Trinidad and Colombia, Maduro has increasingly called on Venezuelan citizens remaining in the country to arm themselves and prepare to defend their homeland.

In November 2018, at an event at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Maduro called on university students to defend the “Revolution” with arms at all cost against the oligarchy and imperialist aggression.

Armed militias are roaming the streets and are also creating havoc and violence on the border between Venezuela and Guyana in another resource fight, this time over the rich gold mines of the Esequiba area.

Much like the blood diamonds of Sierra Leon, the “dirty gold” being mined on the border is being monopolized and controlled for ransom by Venezuelan mobsters and heavily armed criminal gangs that are not under any control of the Venezuelan military or sanctioned by the government; with some suggesting however that members of the Venezuelan military are complicit in the lawlessness and violence at the border against Guyanese nationals and are urged to look the other way.

As people fleeing Venezuela pour into Guyana, the lack of resources by the Guyanese government to manage and maintain proper accounting of persons legitimately fleeing due to hardships and those that are set on exacerbating further conflict between the two countries has not been an easy task.

A report by Colin Freeman of the London Telegraph over the weekend, spoke directly to challenges being faced by another Caribbean country, Trinidad and Tobago, which is finding the influx of Venezuelan migrants as well as the increase in drugs and guns into the country from Venezuela to be challenging, particularly with the resulting increase in violence and criminal activity.

Additionally in the Telegraph report, Freeman stated that piracy has returned to the Caribbean and has the potential to reach Somali-type crisis levels.

The report also stated, with accounts given by Trinidadian seamen, Venezuelan fishermen and other sea-faring individuals have taken to the seas to make a living other than fishing and are said to be hijacking pleasure vessels of any flag and then escaping back into Venezuelan waters without a trace.

In January 2017, the Dutch have alleged that the smuggling of dirty gold amounts to several thousand kilos per month from Venezuela into Curacao via criminal cartels that run through Venezuela.

In Guyana, as a vote of no-confidence against the government at the end of 2018 triggered the constitutional mechanisms for a national, general election to be held within three months, problems with Venezuelan aggression and the uncontrolled migrants and gangs seem to be a problem with no relief in the short to medium term.

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14 COMMENTS

  1. Everybody is too busy with their own agenda’s to notice the big picture…Russia is more than likely to make a strategic move using the Venezuelan regime as puppets. Maduro is so heavily indebted to Moscow he can do nothing but agree to their dictates. In turn Moscow is more than happy to rattle the cage of Western overnments that are too busy with America First, the Mexican wall, Brexit, and right-wing threats as a whole so as not really paying attention to what is happening. There are multiple threats to the Caribbean nations that are being exploited because of short-term old fashioned thinking..: the sneaky back-door entries of dubious persons and capital/influence through citizenship by investment, cash influence buying by the Chineese with their so-called aid …to name only two.
    My guess isnthat everybody will wake up when its too late.

  2. Venezuela would love to draw the USA into this conflict in order to score needed political points at home re: “Yankee imperialism.” Hopefully, Trump et all won’t fall for this trick and allow Venezuela to implode on its own.

  3. Should Venezuela attack Guyana it will trigger a reaction by the British and US governments and will most certainly be used as a reason to militarily invade Venezuela, and rightfully so.

    Such a conflict inside Venezuela will be over in 2 days as the Generals and Maduro and Chavez families will flee to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines where they have been promised a safe haven. Some will fly directly to the Middle East.

    Millions, most likely billions have already been laundered via SVG through a tame offshore bank under some control of the dynasty and others in the highest places in the state.

    From there they will all run [Venezuelans and Vincentians] to the United Arab Emirates [and join those already there] where they have all opened banking facilities and have bought and paid for property.

    Hold my hand and I will take you right to their front doors.

  4. How do we know it was in Guyanese waters…? Not because Minister Greenidge repeats it in parliament and says “… it was in Guyanese waters”, says it’s true. Is Greenidge speaking a [the] truth, or is he simply repeating what ‘he had been told!’ ” Was he aware of the ships actions at the time; is he really in touch with the day to day operations of Exxon and Co’?
    Moreover, Exxon and Guyana has shown no proof of events. I have not seen a video or pic’ of the incident according to Exxon/Guyana. Greenidge quotes some coordinates which Venezuela strongly rejects as untruth, and that’s about it.

    On the other hand, Venezuela has shown clear proof (video and pic’) of the ships entering Venezuela’s waters without authority. Making Exxon, Greenidge, Guyana, Youri and all others who are being ‘taught’ to hate Venezuela, look silly.

    • So Vinciman, where is the evidence you write about, show where it can be read and evidenced?

      Show the evidence or shut up your political rubbish which is totally untrue.

      Tell us about money laundering in the UAE by Vincentian politicians, they pulled out of Panama and now are frequent visitors to the UAE.

      • The truth hurts.
        “Show the evidence…” No! Get up off your anti-Venezuela haters butt and go find the evidence yourself. Need a hint? teleSUR! Exxon and Guyana ain’t got shit to show!

        P.S. The last statement, what was that about? Sounds like yo vex because Venezuela “won” the dispute, and Exxon/Guyana just full ah shit; Trying to steal Venezuelan oil.

  5. For all those nice people who might be interested in viewing the Venezuela vs. Exxon event, (excluding lazy pants, the anti-Maduro/Venezuela fan). Here is your evidence!

    EVIDENCE | Captain of the ship Ramform Thetys (Exxon Mobil) admits to being inside the territorial sea of #Venezuela during his foray on 22/12/2018. Video, shown today by President Nicolas Maduro at a press conference. https://twitter.com/DrodriguezVen

    Additional evidence from teleSUR. Pic’ and video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NClMbr7tGg

    Does Exxon/Guyana have anything to show? Don’t think so!

  6. Hi, I don;t understand why you think these links contain hard data about the boat in Venezuela’s territory, for two reasons.
    1. Whose territory is it? If Venezuela simply declares it to be theirs, that is quite unacceptable. As unacceptable as my saying all of South America is my personal territory.
    2. No hard data -longitude/latitude.
    Please explain.

    • According to the Greenidge,’ Exxon reported… that the Venezuelans intercepted the Ramform Tethys vessel at approximately 10:30h on Saturday at 09° 7’ 19” North, 058° 16’ 20” West at an approximate distance of 140 kilometers from the nearest point to the provisional equidistant line with Venezuela.’

      Venezuela on the other hand says, there were two vessels- the Ramform Tethys which was located at 09° 17′ 4″ North, 058° 15′ 7″ West and the Trinidad and Tobago-flagged Delta Monarch that was located at 058° 17′ 3″ West.

      The point is…Venezuela interdicted the ships and made them leave the area. This alone proves…”It was Venezuelan waters…”!

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