Is Guyana a guinea pig of Venezuela or China?

Dear Editor,
Is Venezuela ‘testing the waters’ by using Guyana as a guinea pig? Guyana was once referred to as Guiana.
With a third vessel being seized, the Venezuelan authorities are reportedly holding the Guyanese fishermen in custody (hostage?) pending investigation, while accusing them of fishing in Venezuela’s assumed territorial waters.
The President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, had earlier this month also issued a presidential decree reinforcing that country’s claim to Guyana’s Essequibo county, and, in a tweet, has vowed to “reconquer” the Essequibo. On the same day, Maduro had written to Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, requesting the UN to lead direct negotiations between Guyana and Venezuela as an alternative to the ongoing litigation at the ICJ.
The ICJ had, in December 2020, delivered a judgement stating that it has jurisdiction to hear a border case Guyana filed against neighbouring Venezuela. The judgement states that the UN Secretary-General may choose a means of settlement under Article 33 of the UN Charter, which includes judicial settlement. Maduro had responded, “We reject the ICJ’s decision. We are determined to defend our Essequibo.”
The International Community has condemned Venezuela’s action, and is calling for the fishermen’s release.
Is this intimidation, or a fishing expedition for Venezuela, with the Guyanese fishermen playing right into their hands at the opportune moment? Venezuela may be encouraging their fishermen to deliberately ply the waters of Guyana, and hope the GDF would take the bait and arrest them.
The Venezuelan gang raids on Guyanese may all be part of a secret plan; who can be sure? Some of the Venezuelan migrants may even be policing for their country, and may have been strategically placed throughout Guyana for the purpose of infiltration!
Venezuela’s aggression is being tolerated by superpower nations China and Russia, and so Venezuela can flex its muscles in tempting and teasing the US, knowing that the US is a big brother to Guyana, and would certainly come to its rescue. Besides, the US has to protect the interests of its American company, ExxonMobil.
Harmon did declare in Essequibo, “War break!” While President Irfaan Ali is saying, “Not a blade of grass, not a cuirass.” Former President Granger did personally pass, and is not publicly singing with the mass.
Venezuela is in a state of turmoil, and is suffering from great economic downturn; with food shortage, unemployment, and a poverty-stricken population fleeing the country by the millions and going to neighbouring countries, including Guyana. Guyanese had once fled to Venezuela in search of the good life during the dictatorial days of Burnham and the PNC.
Venezuela is currently heavily indebted to China, Russia and Iran to the tune of more than a hundred billion dollars. The United States has placed severe economic sanctions on the crippled petro state of the Maduro Government, refusing to recognise him as the legitimate leader, and favouring Guaido instead.
Now that Trump is no longer President of the United States, is Maduro testing the foreign policy of new US President Joe Biden early in the game? Perhaps China is the player behind the scene.
Venezuela would love to get its hands on the wealth of Guyana’s natural resources (oil, gold, timber) in order to repay its debts, especially to China. On the other hand, China is eager to gain control of Citgo, Venezuela’s most valuable foreign asset, as a default for payment.
China is knocking on the back door to rule and dominate the world through its Belt and Road Initiative. The US has accused China of this debt trap diplomacy frequently portrayed as a geopolitical strategy, which ensnares countries in unsustainable debt and allows China undue influence. Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned this during his visit to Guyana.
Over the weekend, China sent large numbers of military aircraft into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, demonstrating provocation of sovereignty. The exercises also sent a warning to President Biden. The US State Department immediately responded by issuing a statement to China to “cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure against Taiwan, and instead engage in meaningful dialogue” with Taiwan. The statement declared that the US “commitment to Taiwan is rock solid,” as per Ned Price.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned global leaders against starting a “new Cold War”, and urged unity in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
Although China’s nominal GDP is somewhat less than the US, its purchasing power parity (PPP) GDP exceeds that of the USA. It is cheaper to live in China than in the USA.
China and the United States have accused each other of starting the COVID-19 pandemic. China has been moving aggressively to promote its COVID-19 vaccines around the world – distribution diplomacy, but is facing an uphill battle in many countries because of perceptions and realities about how the outbreak was handled in the early days, according to Alexandra Phelan, professor of global health at Georgetown University. China is unhappy and unsettled with this setback, being unable to monopolise the distribution of the vaccine throughout the world.
Last week Thursday, a large fire broke out inside the sprawling complex of the Serum Institute of India, the world’s biggest vaccine manufacturer. Is China lurking in the dark, fearful of competition from its neighbour? Earlier this month, there was a skirmish between Indian and Chinese troops at the controversial border area.
Millions of barrels of Venezuelan heavy crude, embargoed by the US, have been surreptitiously going to China. It may be the oil market’s worst-kept secret. The cat-and-mouse games that avoid detection and sanctions include ship-to-ship transfers, shell companies, and silenced satellite signals.
But there’s another aspect to the dodge. It involves “doping” the oil with chemical additives, and changing its name in the paperwork, so it can be sold as a wholly different crude, without a trace of its Venezuelan roots.

Jai Lall