Guyana’s government Friday said it will step up contacts with international allies to obtain equipment and build capacity for the Guyana Defense Force in the face of continuing tensions associated with Venezuela’s threat to large tracts of Guyana’s land and marine space.
In a brief midnight address to mark 48 years as a republic, President David Granger said authorities are also increasing the levels of military and police presence in jungle communities near Venezuela. The delivery of health, education, security and other state services is also being enhanced in those areas he said.
The United Nations last month sent the dispute to the World Court for final settlement at the insistence of Guyana. Granger says the country is tired of living “under the shadow of threats to our territory since independence in 1966.”
“Guyana looks forward to the intensification of cooperation with friendly, foreign states, especially in building capacity for the defence force’s technical corps to improve the national infrastructure in every part of the country, to defend our territorial integrity, to protect our citizens and to respond to emergencies,” he said in an address that dealt almost entirely with the border dispute.
He did not identify which countries Guyana is targeting but the Brazilian government earlier this month said it is willing to help Guyana and the continent maintain peace on the continent once it makes a formal request. Brazil earlier this month hurried a high level team with more than a dozen generals and admirals as well as five senior ministers to Guyana to warn the country to pay greater attention to Venezuelan military activities.
Granger’s remarks and his recent visits to border towns came just hours after the main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) accused government of hiding the seriousness of Venezuela’s threat to Guyana.
“There has been an enhanced threat to our borders and the government has not been forthcoming. I have received some of the information from other sources that lead me to believe that there is a real enhanced to our nation and its sovereignty,”Bharrat Jagdeo, opposition leader and former president said in a statement. He wants government to come clean.
Government has beefed up security in border areas, saying that armed Venezuelan gangs have been crossing the border, terrorizing communities demanding food and other items.
Granger on Wednesday had appealed to native Amerindians to enlist in the army reserve to boost numbers in the face of threats from gangs and tensions associated with the border dispute.