Guyana Acquires $42-Million Military Patrol Vessel

Thu Apr 11 2024
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GEORGETOWN, Guyana: Guyana has purchased a $42-million military patrol vessel from French shipbuilder Ocea, announced the country’s finance ministry on Wednesday, sparking criticism from Venezuela, which asserts claims over an oil-rich region of Guyana.

The newly acquired vessel is intended for safeguarding Guyana’s exclusive economic zone, combating illegal fishing and trafficking, and addressing potential environmental pollution, according to a military official.

The purchase price of the vessel, amounting to 39.5 million euros, includes the vessel’s cost, equipment, and integrated logistics support services, along with training for a five-year period, as specified by the Guyanese government.

French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne, during a visit to Georgetown last month, joined Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali in announcing the “acquisition of maritime patrol assets from France,” according to statements from the French foreign ministry.

Venezuelan Vice-President Delcy Rodriguez reacted to the sale on social media, criticizing Guyana’s purchase as she referred to Guyana as a “fake victim” and denounced the country’s alignment with the United States, Western partners, and former colonial master (Britain) as a regional threat.

The ongoing tensions between Guyana and Venezuela stem from a dispute over the oil-rich Essequibo region, comprising about two-thirds of Guyana’s territory, which has been under Guyanese administration for over a century.

Tensions escalated notably in 2015 following ExxonMobil’s discovery of oil deposits in the region, with renewed concerns arising last year over oil bids accepted by Guyana.

The situation intensified further in December after Venezuela’s controversial referendum endorsed the establishment of a Venezuelan state in the disputed region, raising fears of potential military conflict.

Despite these tensions, both countries have committed not to resort to force in resolving the border dispute, which is currently under consideration by the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Guyana, a former British and Dutch colony, maintains that the boundaries of Essequibo were determined by an arbitration panel in 1899, while Venezuela contends that the Essequibo River to the region’s east serves as a longstanding natural border recognized since 1777.

Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro enacted a law designating Essequibo as a new Venezuelan state while alleging the construction of “secret military bases” by the United States, a claim denied by Washington.

Georgetown has condemned Caracas’ actions as violations of international law.

The Essequibo region, spanning 160,000 square kilometers and rich in oil and natural resources, is home to approximately 125,000 inhabitants, representing one-fifth of Guyana’s population.

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