Guyana Buys Military Patrol Vessel Triggering Rebuke From Venezuela

Guyana has bought a $42-million military patrol vessel from French shipbuilder Ocea, its finance ministry said on Wednesday, triggering a rebuke from Venezuela, which claims an oil-rich region of Guyana as its own.

The vessel will be used to protect Guyana’s exclusive economic zone, combat illegal fishing and trafficking, and uncover possible pollution, according to a military official.

“The price of the vessel (39.5 million euros) includes the cost of the vessel and its equipment and the integrated logistics support services inclusive of training for a five-year period,” according to the Guyanese government.

French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne met with Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali in the capital Georgetown last month, where they announced the “acquisition of maritime patrol assets from France,” the French foreign ministry said at the time.

Venezuelan vice-president Delcy Rodriguez reacted to the sale on social media platform X on Wednesday, saying, “The fake victim Guyana buys an ocean patrol vessel from a French company.”

“Guyana, together with the United States, its Western partners and its former colonial master (Britain), constitute a threat to peace in our region. Venezuela will remain vigilant,” she added.

The Latin American neighbors have been locked in a long-standing dispute over the oil-rich Essequibo region, which makes up about two-thirds of Guyana’s territory and has been administered by the country for more than a century.

The dispute intensified in 2015 after the discovery of oil deposits there by US-based energy giant ExxonMobil, and resurfaced again last year over Guyana’s acceptance of oil bids.

Tensions soared in December after Venezuela held a controversial referendum that overwhelmingly approved the creation of a Venezuelan state in the disputed region, sparking fears of a military conflict.

But both countries pledged last year not to use force to settle the border dispute, which is currently before the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Guyana, a former British and Dutch colony, insists that Essequibo’s frontiers were determined by an arbitration panel in 1899.

But Venezuela claims the Essequibo River to the region’s east forms a natural border recognized as far back as 1777.

Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro promulgated a law designating Essequibo as a new Venezuelan state, while denouncing the building of alleged “secret military bases” by the United States, which Washington has denied.

Georgetown says Caracas’ move violates international law.

Essequibo, a territory of 160,000 square kilometers (62,000 square miles) rich in oil and natural resources, is home to around 125,000 inhabitants, a fifth of Guyana’s population.

Related Articles

Back to top button