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25 Dec, 2023 16:28

UK to deploy warship to Guyana – BBC

The Royal Navy vessel, armed with 30mm cannon and a contingent of marines, is expected to anchor off the coast
UK to deploy warship to Guyana – BBC

The UK is preparing to send a “defence diplomacy” warship to Guyana in a show of support for the former colony in its recently rekindled border dispute with neighboring Venezuela, state broadcaster BBC said on Sunday. 

The offshore patrol vessel HMS Trent will “visit regional ally and Commonwealth partner Guyana later this month as part of a series of engagements in the region” the broadcaster quoted a UK Defence Ministry spokesperson as saying.

Guyana’s relations with Venezuela came under strain early in December, when Caracas renewed its claim over the contested region of Essequibo. Tensions over the oil and mineral rich area have existed since the 19th century. In 1899, US arbitration assigned the territory to the then British colony – a decision Venezuela never saw as legitimate.

Results from a referendum on December 3 supported Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s move to reject the 1899 adjudication and any International Court of Justice jurisdiction over the feud, as well as endorsing plans to offer Venezuelan citizenship to Essequibo residents. He then sent troops to the border near Essequibo, or “Guayana Esequiba” as Caracas refers to the territory.

Maduro and Guyanese President Irfaan Ali agreed to talks and signed the Declaration of Argyle, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, on December 14. The agreement states that both sides will refrain from escalating the conflict further, whether by “words or deeds.” A joint commission was established, and the two governments are planning to meet again in three months to discuss any new matters pertaining to the dispute.

UK Undersecretary for the Americas David Rutley visited Georgetown on December 18, promising Guyana “unequivocal backing” and vowing to “ensure the territorial integrity of Guyana is upheld.”

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Yvan Gil Pinto called the visit an attempt to “destabilize the region.” 

He slammed the move on X (formerly Twitter), saying “the former invading and enslaving empire, which illegally occupied the territory of Guayana Esequiba and acted in an skillful and sneaky manner against the interests of Venezuela, insists on intervening in a territorial controversy that they themselves generated.”