September 23, 2015 Minister of State, Joseph Harmon said that there are a lot of political and strategic considerations for the building-up of Venezuelan troops along its borders with Guyana, but assured that the Administration is on top of the situation, which will be raised at every forum at which Guyana is represented.
Speaking at his weekly post-Cabinet press briefing at the Ministry of the Presidency today, he said that all mechanisms have already been activated in so far as it relates to alerting Guyana’s diplomatic partners including the United Nations (UN), the CARICOM Secretariat, the Organisation of American States (OAS), and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).
The Minister of State also said that the Government sees it as its responsibility to keep citizens fully informed of this developing situation.
“Our responsibility is to ensure that the information is properly analysed and that we provide guidance and careful instructions to the disciplined forces…who are deployed there as well as ensuring that our people are informed at every stage; we believe that this is our best form of defence, once our people are mobilised and told what is happening, we believe that Guyanese people are astute enough to understand the situation and make the right decisions,” Minister Harmon said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman is calling on citizens to remain calm. He explained that these tactics by Venezuela have more of a political end than a military end. Venezuela has been conducting similar activities along its borders with Columbia.
“We all know that there is the UN General Assembly that is being hosted in New York later in the week and so much of what we are seeing is expected to influence and to make an impact on the world’s stage and so Guyanese ought not to be alarmed that anything is about to happen but…all precautions are in place and everything is being done to monitor and define what is going on,” Minister Trotman said.
The Minister described Venezuela’s latest action as “grandstanding” and said that while Guyana is prepared on its own to precipitate any acts of aggression [and] it will remain vigilant until this matter is resolved permanently.
Chief of State of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Brigadier Mark Phillips informed that troops have been deployed at Eteringbang, Kaikan, and at several observation posts along the Cuyuni River. He said that the Force was alerted of the build-up of over 200 troops a week ago, which have been deployed between San Martin and Ankoko Island.
However, he noted that what is unusual in this exercise is the deployment of military boats with machine guns in the Cuyuni River.
“The Cuyuni River is inclusive of Guyana’s border, so to deploy armed boats in the Cuyuni River is an affront to our sovereignty…our deployment is geared to define aggression and acts of incursion of our border and we remain ready to deploy additional troops and equipment if need be to those locations,” he said.
The Chief of State reminded however, that Guyana and Venezuela’s border issue has been settled years ago and as such the GDF’s main focus is to define aggression.
Venezuela has re-opened this matter after Exxon Mobil, an oil company from the United States, announced that significant oil deposits have been found during offshore drilling and exploratory work within Guyana’s exclusive economic zone. Last week, during his visit to Linden, President Granger said that the time has come for this issue to be brought to a permanent end, through juridical means. This is the message he is taking to world leaders at the UN General Assembly later this week.