The United States Embassy in Georgetown has announced that US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) will conduct flight operations with the Guyanese military today, which comes as Secretary of State Anthony Blinken reaffirmed American support during a phone call with President Irfaan Ali.
In a statement, the Embassy said that “In collaboration with the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) will conduct flight operations within Guyana on December 7. This exercise builds upon routine engagement and operations to enhance security partnership between the United States and Guyana, and to strengthen regional cooperation.”
— U.S. Embassy Guyana (@EmbassyGuyana) December 7, 2023
“In addition to this exercise, USSOUTHCOM will continue its collaboration with the GDF in the areas of disaster preparedness, aerial and maritime security, and countering transnational criminal organizations.”
“The U.S. will continue its commitment as Guyana’s trusted security partner and promoting regional cooperation and interoperability,” the statement concluded.
Today @SecBlinken spoke with President @DrMohamedIrfaa1 about our support for Guyana's sovereignty and our robust security and economic cooperation. We look forward to continuing our strong partnership once Guyana joins the @UN Security Council in 2024.
— Matthew Miller (@StateDeptSpox) December 7, 2023
Meanwhile, Secretary Blinken reaffirmed the United States’ “unwavering support for Guyana’s sovereignty” to President Ali, according to the State Department.
In a statement, the State Department added that “The Secretary reiterated the United States’ call for a peaceful resolution to the dispute and for all parties to respect the 1899 arbitral award determining the land boundary between Venezuela and Guyana, unless, or until, the parties reach a new agreement, or a competent legal body decides otherwise.”
“The two leaders concluded the call by agreeing upon the importance of maintaining a peaceful and democratic Western Hemisphere.”
¡Decreto presidencial! Creada la Zona de Defensa Integral "Guayana Esequiba" con 3 áreas de desarrollo integral ADI y 28 sectores de desarrollo en este territorio, dependiente militar y administrativamente de la REDI "Guayana Esequiba", asimismo designé al M/G Rodríguez Cabello… pic.twitter.com/GlCzfz0Ky8
— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) December 6, 2023
This comes as President Nicolas Maduro officially claimed Guyana’s Essequibo region as part of Venezuela, ordered the creation of a military command structure for the region, and stated he will immediately grant licenses for “exploitation of oil, gas and mines in the entire area of our Essequibo.”
On Sunday, a referendum to annex the region passed with a claimed +98% approval rating. Guyana has rejected its results.
Essequibo, which makes up over half of Guyana, has long been claimed by Venezuela. Tensions have risen drastically, however, amid increased interest in offshore oil and mining exploration by international companies in recent years.