Brazil sends armoured vehicles to Venezuela-Guyana border amid heightened Essequibo tensions
A statement from the Brazilian army confirmed the deployment of 14 Guaicurus multi-purpose armoured vehicles near the Venezuelan-Guyanese border. These are equipped with remotely controlled weapons systems, thermal optics, and command and control modules.
"The convoy sent to the border area also includes eight Guarani wheeled armoured transporters, six EE-9 Cascavel wheeled reconnaissance vehicles, and other vehicles," the army's command added.
Brazil bolsters its border with Venezuela
The military authorities provided additional details, stating that as part of the reinforcement of troops stationed in the Brazilian state of Roraima, near the Venezuelan-Guyanese border announced in January of this year, more soldiers have been dispatched. This reinforcement has increased their numbers by 10 per cent to 600 soldiers.
Although Venezuelan and Guyanese authorities agreed in January of this year to conduct a peaceful dialogue addressing the disputed territory, the Brazilian army command claims that the risk of an armed conflict in Essequibo is high.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced on December 4 last year that authorities in Caracas recognized the referendum held the previous day, including Essequibo in Venezuela, as binding. He added that his country rejected the 1899 ruling of international arbitrators, which established the borders when Guyana was still a British colony.
Venezuela's interest in the Essequibo region, constituting two-thirds of Guyana's territory, increased in 2015 following the discovery of abundant oil and natural gas deposits.
Two days after the referendum, Maduro instructed state mining companies to start exploiting the natural resources in Essequibo. He announced a swath of actions designed to facilitate Venezuela's occupation of the area, including the issuance of Venezuelan identity documents to the local populace.
In response to Maduro's decisions, the Guyanese authorities announced the commencement of military exercises near the border with Venezuela.