Venezuela withdraws military assets after “departure” of British warship

Caracas, Dec 31 (EFE). – Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro ordered on Sunday, the withdrawal of “part of the aeronaval assets” deployed on the country’s Atlantic coast ahead of the “departure” of the British warship from “disputed waters” with Guyana.

Defense Minister, Vladimir Padrino, informed on X (formerly Twitter) that “in view of the departure of the British warship HMS “Trent” from the disputed waters, C/J. Nicolas Maduro ordered the transition to a new phase of the Joint Action Exercise “Sifontes” and the redeployment of part of the naval air assets to their respective bases”.

“We will remain vigilant and alert to any provocation, while hoping that the Argyle agreements will be respected, which today are undoubtedly a guarantee of peace in the region,” the minister added.

The Strategic Operational Commander of the Venezuelan Armed Forces (FANB), Domingo Hernández, stated that during the “new phase” of the operation, the armed forces will carry out “patrolling and supply missions in the interior”.

Tensions between Venezuela and Guyana have escalated in recent months over the Essequibo, a natural resource-rich area of about 160,000 square kilometers.

The border dispute between Guyana and Venezuela dates back to the 19th century, but it has gained momentum since 2018, when the International Court of Justice (ICJ) accepted the case and urged Venezuela not to change the current dynamics in the area.

Maduro rejected the ICJ’s mediation, and on Dec. 3, Venezuela passed a referendum to unilaterally approve the annexation of the disputed territory and subsequently ordered the establishment of a military division near the area, among other measures.

Tensions rose to historic highs and on Dec. 14, Maduro and his Guyanese counterpart, Irfaan Ali, met in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for a summit organized by the leaders of the Community of Caribbean States (Caricom) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac).

During the meeting, both leaders signed the Argyle Declaration in an attempt to preserve peace and de-escalate the territorial dispute.

On December 24, the United Kingdom announced that it was sending the ship HMS Trent to Guyana, a former British colony, as a “show of military and diplomatic support”.

On December 28, Venezuela protested the arrival of the British ship HMS Trent off the coast of Guyana, calling it a “hostile provocation” and a “direct threat to peace.

In response, Maduro’s government deployed 5,682 “fighters,” 28 aircraft and 16 ships, among other equipment, for military exercises off the country’s Caribbean coast.

Guyana insisted that the ship’s arrival “does not represent a threat” and that it is committed to maintaining “peaceful relations” with Venezuela.

In this regard, Guyana’s Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo also noted on Thursday that the ships’ visit was “routine” and that it had been “planned for a long time” as “part of the building of Guyana’s defense capacity.

On Thursday, the British government called on Venezuela to cease its “unjustified actions” against Guyana, and Caracas responded by warning that it would give the UK a “timely and legitimate” response to its “threatening behavior.”

Brazil, one of the main mediators in the territorial dispute, expressed its “concern” over the “military demonstrations” and asserted that these actions were contrary to the commitments made in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. EFE csm/mcd

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