By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Brigadier Mark Phillips is assuring Guyanese citizens that the Force is ready and prepared to “defy aggression” on the border it shares with Venezuela.
Addressing the media on Wednesday, September 23 at the Ministry of the Presidency, the Chief of Staff revealed that GDF troops have been deployed at various locations including Eteringbang, Kaikan.
He said there are several observation posts along the Cuyuni River “and we continue to monitor the activities by the Venezuelan armed forces on our frontiers.”
What is of concern to the government and the GDF is the “unusual deployment of military boats with machine guns in the Cuyuni River.”
According to the Chief of Staff, “The Cuyuni River is inclusive of Guyana’s border. To deploy armed boats in the Cuyuni River is an affront to our sovereignty and this was reported to our Commander in Chief…. The international agencies of concern were alerted.”
He told the media that the GDF was alerted to the buildup of Venezuelan troops over one week ago but only noticed the unusual deployment at the weekend of over 200 troops between San Marten – a small town on the border – and Ankoko Island.
“There were…photographs of Surface to Air Missiles that were seen at locations within the Venezuelan border…we were able to locate the Missiles at a town named El Dorado which is about 57 KM inside of Venezuela,” the Brigadier noted.
He assured that the GDF deployment remains in position and continues to monitor the activities, especially in the Cuyuni River.
“Our deployment is geared to defy aggression and acts of incursion on our border and we remain ready to deploy additional troops and equipment if need be to those locations,” the Chief of Staff assured.
According to Brigadier Phillips, troops at Camp Stevenson and Camp Ayanganna and those at other coastal and inland training locations were briefed and alerted about the situation, placing them in a state of readiness.
Meanwhile, Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman emphasized that the measures being taken by Guyana is merely a “show of force” and Guyanese have no reason to be alarmed.
“There is no cause for people to think we’re about to be invaded or anything like that. There are obviously maneuvers…more of a political end than a military end…” Trotman said.
Additionally, Minister of State and Defence, Joseph Harmon said that Guyana has activated all mechanisms at the United Nations, CARICOM, UNASUR and OAS to address the recent development with Venezuela.
Following the recent discovery of oil in Guyana’s waters, the Venezuelan government, led by Nicolas Maduro laid claim again to Guyana’s territory, which has essentially led to tension between the two sides.
Guyana is now seeking a judicial settlement to the controversy.