Tension has soared over Essequibo, which has historically been controlled by Guyana, since Maduro's government held a controversial referendum last weekend in which 95 percent of voters supported declaring Venezuela its rightful owner, according to official results. AFP

The Venezuelan army beefed up its presence near the Essequibo, a region controlled by Guyana that Caracas claims as its own.

According to outlet Escenario Mundial, the Bolivarian Armed Forces built a makeshift bridge over the Cuyuni River, close to the border, and deployed armored vehicles there.

The units include Scorpion-90 light tanks, V-100 armored vehicles used for transporting troops, 8x8 tactical trucks as well as supply vehicles. They were taken across the Cuyuni River and into the Ananoco Island, still in Venezuelan territory.

Army General Domingo Hernández Lárez published a video of the operation on his X (formerly Twitter account), showing troops and vehicles crossing the bridge and greeting people waving the Venezuelan flag.

"People and army are united to bring integral development, safety and protection to the Essequibo people. Everything is possible together!," reads the general's publication.

The movement of forces comes a few days after a military drill conducted by two U.S. planes in Guyana, exercises the Venezuelan government called a "provocation."

"The Bolivarian Navy strongly rejects the reiterated provocations by the U.S. Southern Command and approved by the government of Guyana, which has become a new American Colony," said Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López following the event. He added that the country's defense systems are "activated against any attempt to breach the Venezuelan geographical space."

U.S. forces, on their end, had reported that "two F/A-18F Super Hornet jets, aboard the USS George Washington Aircraft Carrier" would conduct the drills "with the collaboration and approval of local authorities."

Venezuela has brought its claim to the Essequibo to the forefront of regional relations since holding a referendum last year (approved by an overwhelming majority) to take over the territory and create a Venezuelan province there. It has also accused the Georgetown government of "defying and provoking" Caracas by granting concessions to exploit the areas natural resources, particularly oil.

So far there have not been any attacks nor clashes in the area nor the Essequibo as a whole, but Venezuelan authorities said in mid-April that the country will keep its armed forces deployed in its coast near the Atlantic until the dispute is solved in a way that is "satisfactory" to Caracas.

Venezuela had already moved forces to the border, with a February report showing that the Maduro government moved light tanks, missile-equipped patrol boats and armored carriers. The U.S., however, has downplayed this military presence, saying that all movements seen have been of a "very small nature and size and scale and scope.

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.