Venezuela moves “substantial” troops to Guyana border near oil-rich Essequibo region

Andreina Itriago Acosta, Bloomberg May 14, 2024

(Bloomberg) – Venezuela’s armed forces have moved “substantial quantities” of personnel and equipment near the disputed, oil-rich Essequibo region that’s controlled by Guyana, a Washington-based think tank reports, potentially escalating tensions ahead of presidential elections.

The report published Tuesday by the Center for Strategic and International Studies presents updated satellite images from mid-March to late April as evidence that Venezuela has sustained construction and expansion of a military base near Anacoco Island on the border with Guyana.

While Venezuela and Guyana have disputed the sparsely populated territory since the 19th century, the argument has grown more heated in recent years following massive oil discoveries offshore Guyana.

With presidential elections just two months away, President Nicolás Maduro could use an “imminent threat of invasion” to derail or delay the vote, wrote CSIS Director for the Americas Program Ryan Berg.

Recent videos and images posted on X by Venezuela’s Strategic Operational Command Chief Domingo Hernandez Lárez have shown increased activity near Anacoco island.

Maduro, who is seeking a third consecutive presidential term, is facing increasing pressure from Venezuela’s opposition, which has united behind Edmundo González after its most popular candidate was banned from running.

“While the period between now and July 28 is a risky time for Maduro, there is also a risk he may seek to manufacture a crisis after the election, too,” Berg wrote.

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