The U.K has announced Sunday that the HMS Trent of the British Royal Navy will be deployed to the waters off Guyana in South America following the deterioration of relations between their ally, and former colony, and the neighboring country of Venezuela who early in December held a referendum to annex the Guyanese state of Essequibo for the explicit purpose of crude oil extraction and likely also gold. The referendum ended in 95% approval by Venezuelan citizens to annex the state, according to Maduro administration officials. Essequibo makes up 2/3rd of Guyanas total land mass and is home to around 125,000 people, none of which voted or had any referendum available on the issue.
British MOD says the HMS Trent will arive near Guyana later in December for the purpose of “engagements”, saying in a full statement that the “HMS Trent will visit regional ally and Commonwealth partner Guyana later this month as part of a series of engagements in the region during her Atlantic patrol task deployment.” The BBC reports the ship will be coming from the Bahamas and will likely not dock in Georgetown, the capital of Guyana, due to the shallow waters of the port.
U.K FM David Rutley visited Guyana earlier this month and affirmed British support for the nation and their sovereign borders in their land dispute with Venezuela. British colonial-controlled Guyana emerged from a Dutch colonial structure that was established in the late 1500s. Guyana achieved its independence 1966 and became a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations in 1970.
Venezuela bases its claim for Essequibo on the fact that borders of Guyana under British imperial control were drawn by explorers who Venezuela disputes misdrew borders and ceded Venezuelan land to Guyana in the earlier 1800s. In the 1899 Paris Arbitral Award the land was given to Britian after mediation by the United States, however in 1949 the official secretary of the arbitration said the land was awarded as a result of a political deal between British and Russian officials, which has led to Venezuela seeking control of the region since.