Venezuela has to be bluffing, but we should NOT call it


By The Piper

The Piper[] – International affairs are defined by three basic elements, namely, an anarchic state system, state sovereignty, and the interaction among states. Practically all actions are based either upon survival or aggrandizement, or somewhere in between. Two other factors are important. These are, the capabilities of individual states, and the distribution of capabilities within the system in general. All of the above should be given consideration in an analysis of the latest developments in the Guyana-Venezuela border dispute.

The first point to consider is anarchy, which in international affairs does not necessarily mean chaos, but the absence of agents that can authoritatively define and enforce rules, regardless of the actors’ preferences. Another way of saying this is that international institutions, though strong on moral grounds, have definite limits to their power. In theory, both Guyana and Venezuela can pursue their objectives regardless of who says what. The reason for this is that as sovereign states, both countries, at once, have inviolable rights and can do whatever is in its best interest.

What makes all the difference at the individual level is that Venezuela is much stronger than Guyana both in military and economic capabilities. Reports that Guyana has mobilized and deployed forces along the Linden Highway and ‘in the bush’, might please some, but in reality that kind of action is only symbolic. I do not want to go into details, but on basic military grounds, Guyana would not be able to defend itself against a determined military campaign by the Venezuelan armed forces.  You may want to recall Grenada’s irresponsible bombast in the face of US threats to its sovereignty!

The capabilities of individual states, however, does not mean that Venezuela can do whatever it wants. The reason is that the current distribution of global power, combined with the interests of other actors, would provide a backstop to Venezuelan designs. President Maduro may want to recall Iraq’s foolish miscalculations against a superpower and its allies.

What all of this boils down to is that while Guyana may not be able to defend itself, it is not necessarily as vulnerable as it seems. The United States will have seemingly legitimate reasons to come to Guyana’s assistance on account of Exxon Mobil. Chances are that Venezuela know this and is just bluffing.

Bluffing, however, should not be dismissed because calling a bluff may shame an actor and force the issue in a direction that was not truly intended. Put differently, Guyana should pursue backroom diplomacy and keep its mouth shut. There is no need to whip up Guyanese nationalism, if indeed, there is such a thing. Stay calm, but act decisively; that should be the plan of action.



  1. Diplomacy and the court of law proved that the Corentyne River was ours, when Suriname became greedy. Let’s play the same card here. The world can judge.. confident we have nothing to lose through diplomacy.

  2. PHAS 46 I toitally agree Cuba is a case in point. Why the US not even think about jumping into Cuba after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. And for 50 years just pouted at them like a spoiled child The military is well trained and equipped and probably the strongest in the region:. Any country even thinking of jumping into Cuba better think twice.

  3. Let’s not waste money on building up something which will never be big or strong enough, except maybe to execute a coup and put their boots on Guyanese necks. President Granger makes me feel proud to be a Guyanese, he has put across this issue with a lot of dignity and humility.

  4. All said and done. Now what? Stay weak? We need an innovated approach to strengthen our military. If Guyana is to survive and grow then diplomacy is a short term solution. A strong military is the long term solution, things change in the world and weak nations can disappear, swallowed up by stronger ones. Small is not weak, weak is weak. If we continue to decrease our military capabilities in favour of diplomacy, we are in big trouble. With the advent of oil and the inflows of oil money, Guyana needs to develop a modern air force, modern and well equipped navy, highly trained and equipped ground combat troops.

    If Venezuela knew that we can bomb Caracas or blow their boats out of our sea space, they would think twice in grandstanding. Guyana’s use of diplomacy reminds me of the school bully who makes your life miserable and you complain and complain until you become the nuisance, it only stops when one day you fight him to the death, you may lose but he will never touch you again. Why has the USA never laid a hand again in Vietnam? You know why? They learned a lesson and they never wanted more.

    My disappointment is that David Granger appears weak and it is in a way letting the Venezuelans know we are indeed weak. He is not giving me the confidence as a Guyanese that we have a President who can or is willing to fight. Burnham did a better job, I do not know what the GDF had during Burnham’s time but I felt secure knowing we were willing to fight, Mr. Granger lacks this ability and it scares me.

  5. Piper, Piper, do not tread into territory that is beyond your ken .Paragraphs one through four are you trying to explain International relations and getting very confusing, as you try to do so. Paragraph five can stand alone.Paragraph six treads heavily on mine, and all patriotic Guyanese corns.We are patriotic and true nationalistic citizens of Guyana, and please do not insinuate otherwise.It is time to say allowed what we ALL feel, and no we will not shut our mouths, after 50 years of hostile intrangiance by Venezuela.We are staying calm, we are attempting diplomacy, both behind the scenes and trasparently, but doplomacy has to be reciprocal, or it is a waste of time.
    No Piper you are belittling Guyanese and their Goverment, and I for the first time find your blog dissapointing.


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