(PatriotWise) – The president of Guyana on Wednesday warned that his country would take every step necessary to protect itself after Venezuela ordered its state-owned companies to explore for minerals and oil in the disputed Essequibo region, which Guyana claims, the Associated Press reported.
On Tuesday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he would begin granting operating licenses for state-owned companies to explore and exploit the oil, natural gas, and minerals “immediately” in what he called “our Essequibo.”
However, Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali told the Associated Press that his government is contacting its allies and regional partners to protect the Essequibo region that makes up two-thirds of Guyana.
Ali said his country is taking the threat “very seriously” and several “precautionary measures” have been initiated “to ensure the peace and stability of this region.”
Additionally, Ali told the Associated Press that the country’s Defense Force is speaking with its counterparts in other countries. Guyana has defense agreements with some countries in the region. However, Ali did not say which countries the Defense Force has contacted, only saying that Guyana was “building a regional response.”
He said if Venezuela acts, “the region will have to respond.”
President Maduro also announced on Tuesday the establishment of the Comprehensive Defense Operational Zone for Essequibo which would mirror the special military commands operating within Venezuela.
In a statement on Tuesday, President Ali said his government had reached out to the United States, Brazil, Great Britain, and France, as well as the secretary-general of the United Nations and the US Southern Command, which oversees US military operations in South and Central America and the Caribbean.
In his statement, Ali accused Venezuela of violating last week’s ruling from the International Court of Justice in The Hague ordering the country not to take further action until the court could rule on the two countries’ competing claims to Essequibo.
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