The United Kingdom will deploy a naval patrol vessel off Guyana in a show of support for the former British colony, which faces a territorial claim from President Maduro’s more powerful neighbor, Venezuela
The deployment follows moves by Venezuela‘s revolutionary socialist president to claim the vast mineral-rich Essequibo region, which borders his country but has been part of Guyana for more than a century and makes up nearly 2/3 of its territory.
Britain’s decision to send HMS Trent later this month is a significant show of support for the government of Guyana’s capital, Georgetown.
The Trent is a patrol ship with light non-missile armament and can carry light UAVs or a helicopter on board. The patrol ship normally operates in the Gibraltar area, but recently it has also carried out patrol missions in the Gulf of Guinea.Wanting to draw a parallel, it is the modern equivalent of a nineteenth-century gunboat: a nova of limited cost, not enormous capabilities, and whose purpose is more political than military. The crew consists of 65 sailors and marines.
Guayana has a population of 800,000 and armed forces of only a few thousand; it has no real air force or navy, only a few light vehicles. It could never defend itself militarily against Venezuela.
Guyana was a British colony until 1966, and the Essequibo dispute arose when it was under London rule. The country is now a member republic of the Commonwealth and has always held pro-Western positions, despite the fact that the large Indian minority in the past had been pro-Marxist.
David Cameron, Foreign Secretary, said the UK “will continue to work with partners in the region to ensure Guyana’s territorial integrity and prevent escalation.” David Rutley, U.K. Foreign Secretary, visited Guyana last week to meet with President Irfaan Ali and emphasize the British government’s “unequivocal support” for Guyana’s territorial integrity after the Venezuelan claim.
Yván Gil, Venezuelan foreign minister, responded angrily on social media platform X to this visit, saying, “The former invading and enslaving empire, which illegally occupied the territory of [Essequibo] and acted skillfully and deviously against Venezuela’s interests, insists on intervening in a territorial dispute they themselves generated.”
This dispute will be settled directly between the parties. “We will stop the new obstructionism that seeks to destabilize the region.”
Direct talks are currently underway between Venezuela and Guyana, and both sides have pledged not to use violence.