Nicholás Muduro’s threats to annex the Essequibo, an integral part of Guyana, will result in immense suffering for the Venezuelan people. Mr. Maduro is well known for incompetence, something that has been established by every independent analyst who has ever evaluated the destruction of his country’s economy. As numerous scholars, journalists, economists, and world leaders have noted, Maduro is no Hugo Chavez. While Chavez had vision and courage, Maduro is known for myopia, and for cowardice against small nations.
Maduro is whipping up anti-Guyanese hysteria in Venezuela to fool them into voting ‘yes’ on his bogus December 3rd referendum. In what must boggle the mind, he is telling Venezuelans that Guyana is “escalating” tensions against the Bolivarian Republic. But how could this be? Venezuela’s military is among the most powerful in the Americas, while Guyana’s is among the smallest.
Venezuela’s Air Force has 263 aircraft (including 81 helicopters). Its Navy has 46 vessels including a submarine, two mini-submarines, frigates, 25 patrol boats, and 6 gunboats. The Army has 312 war tanks, 1000 AFVs, 200 field artillery, and 36 rocket artillery. Estimates of their active military personnel vary from (125,000-150,000 – CIA), to 1.3 million (Venezuelan government), plus a whopping 3.2 million militia personnel. Eight million Venezuelans are also available for recruitment!
By contrast, the CIA had this to say of Guyana’s military – the Guyana Defense Force’s limited inventory is mostly comprised of second-hand platforms. The GDF is only 3,000 strong. While they are well trained, Guyana’s military is massively outnumbered and has minimal war-fighting capability compared to Venezuela.
The Global Firepower Review ranks Venezuela at 52 out of 145 countries, with 1 being the highest. Guyana is not strong enough to be ranked. Maduro must know all of this. In fact, he has been whipping up sentiments precisely because he knows the differences in capabilities. Yet, the leader of the Bolivarian Republic is making a big mistake, only this time bigger than the ones he made that led to the crash of the Venezuelan economy.
While Guyana is a small country, it is on the right side of history. While we are a democracy with an open economy, Maduro is running a military dictatorship with massive human rights violations. While we follow international law, Maduro has been breaking international law for years. The most consequential difference, however, is that while countries such as the United States and Great Britain will stand with Guyana to defend its territorial integrity, Venezuela will stand-alone with its aggression.
Dictators have a predictable habit of oppressing their own people while simultaneously aggressing against smaller, weaker nations. The news for these strongmen, however, is not good. All their gambits for territorial glory have imploded. Remember Iraq’s catastrophic mistake of invading Kuwait. It was also about oil. Iraq was destroyed, and until today, the Iraqi people are suffering.
Mr. Maduro is a known territorial predator. He should be careful. If not, the Venezuelan people will suffer immensely.
Dr. Randy Persaud