Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday ordered more than 5,600 military personnel to participate in a “defensive” exercise, in response to Britain sending a warship to the waters off Guyana, the AFP has reported.
Maduro said he was launching “a joint action of a defensive nature in response to the provocation and threat of the United Kingdom against peace and the sovereignty of our country.”
Venezuela had earlier called on Guyanese authorities to take immediate action for the withdrawal of the HMS Trent, a vessel from the British Navy, and to refrain from continuing to involve military powers in the territorial controversy.
Venezuela says it rejects the arrival of the HMS Trent to the coasts of Guyana, which it says ‘becomes an act of hostile provocation and a violation of the recent Argyle Declaration.’
Britain said on Sunday it would divert the Royal Navy Patrol Ship to Guyana in a show of support for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member state.
This follows the recent peace talks in St Vincent and the Grenadines where a Joint Declaration of Argyle for Dialogue and Peace between Guyana and Venezuela was created, aimed at quelling tensions.
“HMS Trent will visit regional ally and Commonwealth partner Guyana later this month as part of a series of engagements in the region during her Atlantic patrol task deployment,” a Ministry of Defence spokesperson said.
Venezuela in a statement says the presence of the military vessel is extremely serious.
The statement said: “It also warns the members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) that these actions are contrary to the spirit of peace and understanding with which Venezuela attended the December 14 meeting in St Vincent and the Grenadines, to which we must return immediately and continue on the path of direct dialogue between the parties.”