Venezuela’s Defense Minister on New SOUTHCOM-Guyana’s ‘Partnership:’ We Will Act Proportionally in Response to Any Provocation

Orinoco TRibune, March 15, 2024 —

During an event held on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the Ministry for Defense’s Vice Ministry for Services, Personnel and Logistics at the Military University in Caracas, Venezuelan Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino stated, “We will have a firm presence in our sovereign maritime space, with military deployment and acting proportionally to any provocation intended to be made.”

On Friday, March 15, the senior military officer expressed such statements in response to announcements from Commander of the Southern Command of the United States General Laura Richardson. These statements were disseminated on social media platforms while she was being questioned during a US Senate hearing. The top US official referred to the Venezuelan historical claim over the Essequibo territory as an “unjustified claim” and reiterated that the US military would continue military drills with Guyana, among other acts of aggression.

Padrino said that Richardson would have stated that “we Venezuelans, or rather, the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro, has taken over the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, which is a fully growing democracy, a US partner. She says that we are animals that are on top of that democracy. Well, it is the imperialist view of the conflict. No one is inviting them to this dispute. No one has invited the United States to interfere in the affairs that belong entirely to Venezuela and the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.”

He added that the US plans to permanently carry out military exercises in the waters to be delimited with Guyana, seeking involvement irresponsibly “by carrying out military means, carrying out exercises, and running the risk of creating a difficult situation that goes against the regional peace, which the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean have signed with great vehemence to declare our [region] a zone of peace.”

Padrino warns that the US Southern Command endangers the zone of peace
Minister Padrino believes that the Latin American and Caribbean Zone of Peace is in danger due to the presence of the US Southern Command in lands and waters to be delimited between Venezuela and Guyana.

He said that the Southern Command’s general, being an agent of Exxon Móvil, has “a voracious thirst for energy that the United States needs…” and emphasized that she is involved in a matter that does not concern her.

For this reason, Padrino said that he responded “to that lady not to get involved in that, that no one has invited her and that the Bolivarian National Armed Force is deployed there through Operation Sifontes to protect the waters that incontrovertibly belong to Venezuela, that Orinoco Delta projection we are not discussing. We tell the gringos to go home. Gringo go home, this is not a topic for you. This is an issue for the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to seek a practical, satisfactory solution between the parties under the umbrella of the Geneva Agreement and, in addition to that, acting under what was agreed in the Argyle Declaration last year .”

Padrino reported that President Nicolás Maduro has been very firm. “He has instructed the Strategic Operational Commander and me so that the military deployment remains there and defends, centimeter by centimeter, our maritime territory, a product of the continental projection of the Essequibo territory.”

He ordered the FANB, “Let us prepare; let us increase our operational readiness without offending, blackmailing or threatening anyone. It is a constitutional task that we must have and fulfill: military defense, participation in national development and maintenance of internal order.”

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