Seeking to increase its presence on its border with Venezuela and Guyana, and amid the escalating tension over the Essequibo, the Brazilian Army (EB) sent more troops to the north, keeping up with a strategic deployment initiated in early December.
On January 13, some 14 Guaicurus armored vehicles, 18 other military land vehicles, as well as 50 service members, departed from the 20th Armored Cavalry Regiment, based in Campo Grande, Mato Grande do Sul state, escorted by the 9th Army Police Battalion, for Boa Vista, the capital of Roraima state that borders both Venezuela and Guyana.
In an interview with Reuters, Brazilian Ambassador Gisela Padovan, a top diplomat for Latin America and the Caribbean, said that the hard to reach Essequibo region makes it so that the main road connection between Venezuela and Guyana is through Brazil, adding that its use for military purposes would not be tolerated.
The units integrated the 18th Mechanized Cavalry Regiment, which force is being increased to some 600 soldiers in three cavalry squadrons and a command and support squadron. Nearly 50 armored vehicles have arrived in Boa Vista, since the first deployment of early December.
The deployments are part of Operation Roraima, a coordinated EB effort to reinforce security on the country’s northern border. Other armored vehicles will be moved to Roraima from the south and central-west of the country, the EB said in a statement. This transformation, the EB added, had already been planned since 2009, to fight transborder crime, including narcotrafficking and illegal mining that transnational criminal organizations carry out in the Amazon region. However, the deployment of the 18th Mechanized Cavalry Regiment, initially planned for 2025, was launched as a response to the current geopolitical situation between Venezuela and Guyana.
The Army’s Social Communication Center said that, in accordance with its Constitutional mission of defending the homeland, it has maintained, through its intelligence system and alerts, constant monitoring and readiness of its personnel to guarantee the inviolability of Brazil’s borders.
“In this context, a reinforcement of troops and means of military employment was anticipated in the cities of Pacaraima and Boa Vista. In addition, the 1st Jungle Infantry Brigade, in Roraima, with its staff of almost 2,000 military personnel, intensified its presence on that border strip, in order to better fulfill the mission of surveillance and protection of the national territory,” the EB said in a statement.
The Nicolás Maduro regime has been ramping up its claims over the Essequibo since its controversial December 3 referendum in which voters, according to the regime, supported the annexation of the region — a fact that many experts dispute. Maduro’s aggressive stance has raised fears in the region of a potential conflict over a territory that makes up two thirds of Guyana — territory that the Arbitral Award of 1899 granted to then British Guiana.
Brazil has been watching the situation between Venezuela and Guyana closely and with concern, urging for a peaceful resolution. “If there’s one thing we don’t want, it’s a war in South America,” Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said in December.