Biden officials headed to Guyana amidst Venezuelan dispute over oil wealth

Jennifer Jacobs, Bloomberg February 04, 2024

(Bloomberg) – Key Biden administration national-security officials traveled to Guyana on Sunday as the U.S. works to prevent the country’s dispute with Venezuela over oil and mineral riches from sliding into armed conflict.

The Parliament building in Georgetown, Guyana (Photographer: Eilon Paz/Bloomberg)

Jon Finer, the principal deputy national security adviser, and Juan Gonzalez, the White House National Security Council’s senior director for the Western Hemisphere, are continuing work on regional security and economic stability, the U.S. Embassy in Guyana said.

The U.S. Air Force’s southern commander, Major General Evan Pettus, was in Guyana last week to talk about the security cooperation as the U.S. military strategizes how to help the nation protect its oil-heavy Essequibo region.

Tension began rising again in 2015, when U.S. giant Exxon Mobil Corp. discovered massive oil reserves off the Guyanese coast. They flared up last year after Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro held a referendum that purportedly showed overwhelming support for his nation’s push to take control of the Essequibo.

Guyana pledged to maintain peace and to continue working toward a diplomatic solution after a Thursday meeting in Brazil.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has offered “unwavering support for Guyana’s sovereignty.”

Finer and Gonzalez will be in Colombia on Monday.

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