The Coming Venezuela-Guyana War?

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

by Daniel Nardini

The government of Guyana has made it clear that it will defend not only its sovereign territorial waters against any Venezuelan claims, but that it will defend its territory west of the Essequibo River. There is no question that the Venezuelan government under current President Nicolas Maduro is claiming Guyana territory and territorial waters. Why is Venezuela doing it now? Because the Venezuelan government is unstable, because the Venezuelan economy is in crisis, and because Maduro may need some “distraction” to take Venezuelans’ minds off of the country’s current problems. Just as equally important is that the corporation Exxon has discovered vast oil reserves in the territorial waters of Guyana. It would not be surprising if Venezuela tries to seize the territorial waters in order to enforce its “claim” of sovereignty.

It is possible for Venezuela to do this. Venezuela has 130,000 army troops. Venezuela has 60,000 men and women in its Navy. It has six missile frigates (medium size battleships), two diesel electric submarines, and a number of coastal patrol boats. Guyana has 2,100 total military personnel, eight patrol boats, one river boat, and one amphibious boat. The disparity could not be more glaring. Without question it is a David and Goliath scenario. Of course, Venezuela has the advantage of population size. There are 30 million Venezuelans and only 799,613 people in Guyana. Although Guyana’s armed forces are professional (having been trained by the British), it is well out-numbered by Venezuela.

There are two possibilities that might prevent Venezuela from attacking Guyana. First, Guyana is a member of the British Commonwealth, and Great Britain might come to Guyana’s aid. Second, with relations the way they are between Venezuela and the United States, America might also come to the aid of Guyana. These two possibilities might explain why Venezuela might not try to grab anything from Guyana. I say might. Under a repressive government like the one under Nicolas Maduro, it is hard to predict what Venezuela might do. Let us hope that for the sake of the Venezuelan people, the people of Guyana, and for the Americas one of these moves will not be war.

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