MEXICO CITY (AP) — Venezuela mentioned Saturday it’ll proceed to deploy almost 6,000 troops till a British army vessel despatched to neighboring Guyana leaves the waters off the coast of the 2 South American nations.

In a video posted to X, Venezuelan Protection Minister Vladimir Padrino appeared surrounded by army officers in entrance of a marked up map of Venezuela and Guyana, a former British colony.

Padrdino mentioned the forces are “safeguarding our nationwide sovereignty.”

“Armed forces have been deployed not simply within the east of the nation, however throughout your complete territory,” he mentioned. “They are going to be there till this British imperialist boat leaves the disputed waters between Venezuela and Guyana.”

The Protection Ministry confirmed to The Related Press that the video was made at a army base in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas.

The video comes after weeks of tensions between the 2 international locations over Venezuela’s renewed declare to a region in Guyana known as Essequibo, a sparsely populated stretch of land roughly the dimensions of Florida that’s wealthy in oil and minerals. Operations generate some $1 billion a 12 months for the impoverished nation of almost 800,000 folks that noticed its financial system broaden by almost 60% within the first half of this 12 months.

Venezuela has lengthy argued it was cheated out of the territory when Europeans and the U.S. set the border. Guayana, which has managed the zone for many years, says the unique settlement was legally binding and the dispute must be determined by the Worldwide Court docket of Justice within the Netherlands.

The century-old dispute was lately reignited with the discovery of oil in Guyana, and has escalated since Venezuela reported that its residents voted in a Dec. 3 referendum to claim Essequibo, which makes up two-thirds of its smaller neighbor.

Critics of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro say the socialist chief is utilizing the tensions to distract from inside turmoil and stoke nationalism within the lead as much as presidential elections subsequent 12 months.

In current weeks, the leaders of Guyana and Venezuela promised in a tense meeting that neither facet would use threats or pressure in opposition to the opposite, however failed to succeed in settlement on methods to deal with the bitter dispute.

Tensions got here to a different head with Friday’s arrival in Guyana of the Royal Navy patrol ship HMS Trent, which officers mentioned had been collaborating in an operation combatting drug smuggling within the Caribbean close to the coast of Guyana. Most lately used to intercept pirates and drug smugglers off Africa, the ship is supplied with cannons and a touchdown pad for helicopters and drones and may carry round 50 marines.

Maduro mentioned the ship’s deployment violates the shaky settlement between Venezuela and Guyana, calling its presence a risk to his nation. In response, Maduro ordered Venezuela’s army — together with air and naval forces — to conduct workout routines close to the disputed space.

“We consider in diplomacy, in dialogue and in peace, however nobody goes to threaten Venezuela,” Maduro mentioned. “That is an unacceptable risk to any sovereign nation in Latin America.”

Guyana’s authorities rejected Maduro’s claims, with officers saying that the go to was a deliberate exercise aimed toward enhancing the nation’s protection capabilities and that the ship’s go to would proceed as scheduled.

Throughout talks earlier in December, Guyanese President Irfaan Ali mentioned his nation reserved its proper to work with companions to make sure the protection of his nation. Guyana has a army of solely 3,000 troopers, 200 sailors and 4 small patrol boats referred to as Barracudas, whereas Venezuela has about 235,000 lively army personnel in its military, air pressure, navy and nationwide guard.

“Nothing that we do or have carried out is threatening Venezuela,” Guyana’s vp, Bharrat Jagdeo, informed reporters in Georgetown, the nation’s capital.

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