No “secret” military base in Guyana – White House

…urges Venezuela to “peacefully” respect 1899 Arbitral Award

White House National Security Communications Adviser John Kirby

The United States Government has denied that it has already established or have plans to set up a secret military base in Guyana following allegations by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
White House National Security Communications Adviser, Admiral John Kirby told reporters at a press briefing on Thursday that “there’s no plans for a secret military base [in Guyana]”.
“And we’ve said many times that there’s an 1899 arbitral ruling about the border between Guyana and Venezuela, and we want both sides to respect that ruling and to do it peacefully,” the White House official added in response to a question about the US support for Guyana in defending its sovereignty.
After promulgating “the Organic Law for the Defense of Guayana Esequiba”, thus effectively claiming the Essequibo region of Guyana – more than two-thirds of its national territory – to be a state within the Spanish-speaking nation, Maduro on Wednesday criticised President Dr Irfaan Ali as a “puppet” of the United States Government, the British Government and US oil giant ExxonMobil, which is currently engaged in oil production activities in Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off the Essequibo Coast.
The Venezuelan Leader has also accused Guyana of partnering with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Southern Command – both US security agencies – to establish secret military bases to attack Tumeremo, which is the supposed capital of the new state Venezuela is purporting to establish with the Essequibo territory.

Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro

Maduro’s statement, which has been described by the Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ministry in Georgetown as “offensive and undignified”, comes after the CIA Director, William J Burns, visited Guyana last month to meet with President Ali and other top Government officials, including local security officials.

Peaceful coexistence
However, President Ali on Thursday, commenting on the heightened tensions with Guyana’s Spanish-speaking nation, posited that Guyana has always abided by international law and wants a peaceful coexistence with its neighbours.
“We are a country that is acutely aware of where our borders are. And we are a country that is determined to ensure that all that is contained within our borders, remain within our borders and remain the assets of Guyana. We have no intention of converting any other assets from any one of our neighbours. Our only intention is to live peacefully and to develop our country for the Guyanese people, but more importantly, ensuring that our prosperity leads to regional prosperity… But at the same time, we are not naive. We are very careful, very watchful about everything that is happening [in Venezuela],” the Guyanese Head of State said at a regional security forum held in Washington DC on Thursday.
The Guyana Government has, on several occasions, denied partnering with the US or any other country in aggression against Venezuela.

“Bad faith”
Venezuela’s recent move to purport to annex Guyana’s Essequibo territory by law has been described as “bad faith” by Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo, who has also reassured the Guyanese citizenry that Government remains vigilant on these latest developments coming out of Caracas.
In promulgating “the Organic Law for the Defense of Guayana Esequiba”, Maduro said this organic law would guarantee that the December 3, 2023 referendum would be fully implemented in the defence of Venezuela and its territory.
At his weekly press conference on Thursday, VP Jagdeo indicated that the Guyana Government has notified its legal team as well as international partners about this latest act of aggression by Venezuela. In fact, he noted that there are mounting concerns about the Spanish-speaking nation’s recent attempt to annex more than two-thirds of Guyana’s sovereign territory.

No base
Back in January, Jagdeo had declared at a press conference , “We have not been approached by the United States to establish a military base in Guyana.”
In fact, Guyana has been receiving several overseas security missions from bilateral partner nations to strengthen its internal security in order to better police the country, including its borders and EEZ.
In February, United States Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM’s) Air Force Commander, Major General Evan Pettus had dismissed claims by Venezuela that the US was setting up a base in Guyana.
“That’s an interesting rumour. It’s not one that I’m aware has any foundation,” said Major General Pettus, who was on a three-day visit in Guyana to continue discussions with the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) on its air domain awareness and collaborate on advancing Guyana’s airspace awareness capacity.
According to the Air Force Commander, the US military, especially through SOUTHCOM, has had a strong bilateral security partnership with Guyana, dating back several decades, and one which spans a vast spectrum of areas. These range from military capability, humanitarian assistance, disaster response, and medical capabilities.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Chief-of-Defence Staff of the GDF, Brigadier Omar Khan, who pointed out that Guyana not only has miliary cooperation with the US and other Western nations but with countries within the region.
Asked whether the GDF is concerned that its continued military engagements with various partners could be viewed by Venezuela as aggression, Brigadier Khan contended that these collaborations were geared towards not only ensuring Guyana’s security but the collective security and stability of the region.
“The region is made up of many actors, several countries and no one country can say to themselves that they can do it on their own. We always need partnership, and partnership has been the foundation for collective security across this region,” the Army Chief had noted.
Back in December 2023, the United Kingdom had sent a Royal Navy patrol vessel to Guyana’s waters as part of a series of engagements in this region – a move which was viewed by President Maduro as a threat to the peace and sovereignty of his country by the British Government.
At the time, President Ali had argued that “Guyana has long been engaged in partnerships with regional and international states, aimed at enhancing internal security. These partnerships pose a threat to no one, and are in no way intended to be aggressive or constitute an offensive act against any state.” (G8)