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Venezuela is massing troops near its border with Guyana, despite an agreement to avoid escalation

Venezuela is massing troops near its border with Guyana, despite an agreement to avoid escalation

(CNN) — Satellite images show Venezuela has beefed up its military presence near its disputed border with Guyana, even as Caracas said it was seeking diplomatic channels to resolve a historic territorial dispute with its neighbor over Essequibo.

Maxar's images, collected in January, show parts of the rainforest recently cleared and others destroyed at a military base on Venezuela's Anacogo Island, on the Cuyuni River bordering Guyana. The photos also reveal the new infrastructure at the site and several armored vehicles.

Although the landing area appears unchanged, a helicopter can be seen there and the progress of the access roads can be observed.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (Credit: Pedro Rances Mattey/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (Credit: Pedro Rances Mattey/Anadolu via Getty Images)

North of the site, at the crossing of the Quyuni River, which provides land access to the site, a heavy riverboat is visible and large areas of rainforest have been cleared. On one side of the road are large reserves of what appear to be construction materials and three armored vehicles.

In January, Venezuela had already boasted of expanding its military presence in the region in propaganda videos broadcast on its military social media accounts, showing bulldozers clearing land, as well as light tanks and infantry fighting vehicles and a Mi-17 military transport helicopter. .

“[La ampliación de la base] Promoted by the 11th Armored Brigade in collaboration with the Corps of Engineers of the 6th Army of Venezuela, it improves the FANB's response system in this important border area with the state of Guyana Eszequiba and prevents any event that threatens the Republic,” the Venezuelan Army said in a release on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Aerial view of the Essequibo region taken from Guyana on December 11, 2023. (Photo by ROBERTO CISNEROS/AFP via Getty Images)

The escalation of Venezuelan operations along the disputed border was first reported by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

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Despite Venezuela reaching an agreement with Guyana on December 15, the military buildup is occurring in an effort to avoid escalation and resolve the dispute between the two countries without the use of force.

In a joint statement, the two sides agreed “not to threaten or use force against each other under any circumstances” and to “avoid escalation of conflict or differences arising out of any dispute between them, whether in word or deed.”