Brazil sends troops to the border with Venezuela: Fear of a new conflict is growing

Brazil Army / Photo EPA-EFE/ANDRE BORGES

Brazil has announced that it is deploying troops along the border with Venezuela after the Venezuelan government announced them plans to incorporate the territory controlled by Guyana in its territory. The oil-rich Essequibo region has been disputed since the 19th century, when Guyana was a British colony.

Venezuela has renewed its claims to the territory after offshore oil and gas reserves were discovered a few years ago. Tensions are rising after Sunday's referendum in Venezuela. More than 95 percent of voters were said to support the government's claim to Essequibo, reports BBC.

Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro has since asked the state oil company to issue permits to exploit there and proposed that the National Assembly pass a law making the area part of Venezuela. With such moves, he caused concern in the entire region.

While Guyana has its own troops on standby, Brazil's military said it was moving more troops to the border town of Boa Vista, the state capital of Roraima, as well as bringing in additional military vehicles. However, any military incursion by Venezuela would be a logistical challenge as Venezuelan troops would have to pass through Brazilian territory due to difficult terrain elsewhere.

According to the AFP news agency, the Brazilian military said it was strengthening its presence in the region as part of efforts to "guarantee the inviolability of the territory." A Guyanese military helicopter carrying seven people has been reported missing near the border with Venezuela. However, Guyana's Chief of Staff, Omar Khan, said there was "no information to suggest that Venezuela is involved".

Venezuela voted to seize two-thirds of the territory of neighboring Guyana

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