Maduro vs. Guyana: "It's very difficult to guess the head of a populist dictator"Maduro vs. Guyana: "It's very difficult to guess the head of a populist dictator"

Roraima is the only region that offers ideal crossing conditions from Venezuela to Guyana

General Sergio Etchegoyen

Sergio Etchegoyen, a general in the reserve and former minister of the Institutional Security Cabinet (GSI) of the Presidency of the Republic of Brazil, says that it is unpredictable whether or not Venezuelan President Nícolas Maduro really wants to invade the Essequibo region in Guyana, which could provoke a war in South America.

In an interview with Radio CDN, Etchegoyen said that Maduro is probably using this referendum on the annexation of Essequibo, which had 96% of the votes in favor, to seek support from Venezuelans for the 2024 presidential election.

The recent discovery of 11 billion barrels of oil off the coast of Guyana, equivalent to 75% of Brazil’s entire reserves, is another factor that could be one of Maduro’s motives.

The big question is what Maduro will do with the result. Did he hold a plebiscite to do nothing? Will he demoralize himself even more? Or will he do something and risk bringing instability to a region that still had some stability, South America? But it’s very difficult to guess the head of a populist dictator, because it doesn’t work in the same way as democracy, in which it has to be accountable to the system of checks and balances,” said the reserve general, who was commander of the 3rd Army Division in Santa Maria and now lives in Novo Hamburgo.

Yesterday, Maduro said that “Venezuela will be able to recover Essequibo“, while Guyana’s vice-president, Bharrat Jagdeo, said that the country must be prepared to defend itself.

Etchegoyen pointed out that Guyana has 800,000 inhabitants and that the Guyanese Army has just over 20,000 troops, which is no match for the Venezuelan Army. He pointed out that the border between the two countries is only jungle, and that the only passage with good conditions for Venezuelan troops to invade Guyana would be through the north of Roraima. But he believes that the chance of Maduro invading Brazil to reach Guyana is remote.

Asked if the conflict could force Brazil to send more troops to Roraima, Etchegoyen recalled that an entire brigade, with several units from Rio Grande do Sul, was transferred more than 10 years ago to Boa Vista (RR), due to the defense vacuum in the region. Now, more Brazilian military personnel have been taken to Roraima, and a possible conflict could force the Army to send more troops or units to protect the border.

Venezuela doesn’t need to cross the border. It starts with diplomatic and political actions. Maduro’s referendum is already a political action. Then a military concentration begins. All it takes is for Venezuela’s military preparations to begin and a military concentration that indicates Venezuela’s aggressive intentions for other countries to intervene,” he said, mentioning that countries like the United States and England, with interests in the region, could send troops to protect Guyana.

Etchegoyen stressed that Brazil is the largest country in South America and that it needs to maintain its position of regional leadership and its interest in avoiding a war in the region.
The Brazilian government may have sympathy for Maduro, and it has very strange sympathy for dictatorships such as Maduro, Iran, Russia, but no Brazilian government that has gone against the national interest has survived politically. What is the national interest? It is to have peace in its surroundings, to have prosperity, to not have to invest so much in things that would jeopardize investments in social and other issues, to attract companies, capital. And capital doesn’t go where the political and military risk recommends it doesn’t go. I don’t have the power of attorney to speak on behalf of the government, but I think that the Brazilian government will think long and hard about this, that it can make the political maneuvers that populists have their own language for. But I don’t believe that the Brazilian government would support an invasion of a sovereign nation to take over a territory that Brazilian diplomacy has recognized for so long and that this invasion takes place on Brazilian territory. I don’t believe that, it’s a very remote possibility,” said Etchegoyen.

Finally, the reserve general warned that the worst-case scenario would be an invasion followed by military intervention by countries that support Guyana, such as the US and the UK, which could lead to a bigger and longer-lasting war.

Other quotes by Etchegoyen

“It’s as if we were holding a plebiscite to annex Uruguay, taking into account Brazil’s example with the Cisplatina Province. It doesn’t make any sense. Uruguay, like the Essequibo region, is the result of international mediation and time. It’s over, it’s res judicata, as the lawyers say. Although international law today is not a model of balance, there are some rules that cannot be broken.”

“Guyana is a small country of 800,000 inhabitants, with an army of 20,000 men and unable to stand up to the Venezuelan army. This opens up another issue: in the same way that the Brazilian government has been warning Venezuela, the president has been telling Maduro not to do anything stupid, it’s not enough to warn Venezuela, we need to be very clear about our support for the status quo, which is the current territory of Guyana. It’s an old Brazilian position.”

“There’s another issue: Roraima is the only region that offers ideal crossing conditions from Venezuela to Guyana, because the border between them is jungle. The north of Roraima, on the other hand, is a region of countryside and highlands, where the use of troops and logistics is extremely favorable. So, one concern is that Venezuela, in a populist burst of misplaced bravery, wants to make this move for Brazil. Or that it will be forced by the conditions to make a move for Brazil. From a planning point of view, this exists. Just look at the map and the easiest thing is to do it for Brazil. But then you have to say, no, this land has an owner.”

“Hugo Chavez himself, who is Maduro’s great mentor, recognized some time ago that Essequibo belongs to Guyana and that’s that.”

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