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– GDF promises aggressive response
Guyanese soldiers came under heavy gunfire reportedly from a Venezuela-based criminal gang, the Guyana Defence Force has confirmed.
The GDF believes that the attack would have come from the Sindicato Gang.
The attack on the Guyaneee soldiers come one week after Guyana and the United States signed an agreement to conduct joint patrol near the Guyana/ Venezuela border. The signing took.place during the visit by US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo.
The GDF said following the shooting ranks have intensified boat patrols. The border is some 1000 kilometers long and the GDF said such occurences are not new.
Since Guyana announced its oil find in 2015, the neighbouring Spanish-speaking country has resurfaced its claim to Guyana’s Essequibo region and Guyana has since resorted to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to settle its ownership based on the 1889 Arbitral Award.
Venezuela’s armed forces have around 515,000 personnel, including roughly frontline 130,000 troops. On land, Venezuela has 696 combat tanks, along with 700 armored fighting vehicles. At sea, the nation has roughly 50 naval assets, 3 frigates, 4 corvettes and 2 submarines. In the air, the country has 280 aircraft, including 42 fighter jets.
Needless to say, Guyana, with a population of less than 1 million and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) worth approximately $US4.28 billion in 2019, cannot compete. Currently, the only tensions between the neighbouring countries is the awaited outcome of the ICJ border controversy case, though Venezuela does not believe the Court has jurisdiction.
The US, however, has its own contention with Venezuela as it recognises Opposition Leader, Juan Guaido as “interim president” and considers the Venezuelan National Assembly, which he currently leads, to be the only legitimate federal institution.
Its position is that the Maduro regime’s irresponsible intervention in the economy has facilitated widespread corruption and stoked hyperinflation leading to negative economic growth and a humanitarian crisis.
At the signing of the agreement last week President Irfaan Ali said “It is not only from a maritime perspective because we would have raised also, with the Secretary, radar coverage of our Exclusive Economic Zone which is critical at this time. We have had various difficulties and I think we welcome any help that would enhance our security, that would enhance our ability to protect our borders and, importantly, to enhance our capability and ability to ensure that we go after criminal elements and this allows us to do that,” he said, when media pointed to the concerns of Guyana’s sovereignty being at risk.
Responding to the same concerns, Secretary Pompeo assured that the United States is only here to protect Guyana’s sovereignty. He pointed to the agreement signed between the US and Guyana on Friday, a Growth in the Americas Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), stating that this will help the two countries to achieve their goals.