On December 24th, 2023, the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense announced that the HMS Trent would deploy to Guyana in show of diplomatic and military support as the border crisis with Venezuela continues to escalate. Initially the Venezuelan government only denounced the deployment.
On December 25th, 2023 Venezuelan Defense Minister Padrino criticized the deployment as a “provocation” which risks “peace and stability” in the region.
¿Un buque de guerra en aguas por delimitar? ¿Y entonces? ¿Y el compromiso con la buena vecindad y la convivencia pacífica? ¿Y el acuerdo de no amenazarse y utilizar la fuerza mutuamente en ninguna circunstancia?
¡Seguimos alertas ante estas provocaciones que ponen en riesgo la… pic.twitter.com/7nqifgGULn
— Vladimir Padrino L. (@vladimirpadrino) December 24, 2023
However, in the last four hours, the Venezuelan military has mobilized. Venezuelan President Maduro announced at 1200 EST, that his military was launching “General Domingo Antonio Sifontes” Armed Forces Joint action in response to the HMS Trent deployment. 5,600 Venezuelan military personnel will be involved in the exercise. He said:
”I have ordered the activation of a joint action by the entire Bolivarian National Armed Forces on the Eastern Caribbean of Venezuela, on the Atlantic facade, a joint action of a defensive nature and in response to the provocation and threat of the United Kingdom against the peace and sovereignty of our country.”
The exercises will be carried out in the waters of the Gulf of Paria, in the state of Sucre.
#EnVivo ? | Jefe de Estado @NicolasMaduro ordena la activación inmediata de la Acción Conjunta "General Domingo Antonio Sifontes", que involucra a la Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana, sobre el Caribe oriental y la Fachada Atlántica como respuesta a la provocación del Reino… pic.twitter.com/fXiCIlGXyU
— Prensa Presidencial (@PresidencialVen) December 28, 2023
This is a significant chapter in the ongoing border dispute between Venezuela and Guyana over the mineral-rich territory in the Orinoco basin which lies in the disputed area called Guayana Esequiba. This issue has been arbitrated in 1899, 1967, and 2020, each time being rejected by the Venezuelan government. However, the issue has been exacerbated by the Maduro regime which has detained Guyana fishermen, built military runways on the border, and destroyed gold mining dredges on the Guyana side. According to national polling, 95% of Venezuelans consider the territory to belong to Venezuela.