Venezuelan President alleges US establishing secret military bases in oil-rich disputed region between Venezuela and Guyana

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has accused the United States of establishing “secret military bases” in the disputed Essequibo region, close to Venezuela’s borders. He views this as “aggression” against his country.

Maduro made these claims during a ceremony commemorating a recent law defending Guyana Essequibo. The region, which is rich in oil and minerals, has been the subject of a long-standing territorial dispute between Venezuela and Guyana.

“We have information proving that, in the territory of Guyana Essequibo, temporarily administered by Guyana, secret military bases of the [US] Southern Command… a body of the CIA, have been installed,” Maduro said.

He alleged that these bases constitute “aggression” against the people of southern and eastern Venezuela and were built “to prepare for an escalation against Venezuela.”

The US Southern Command, part of the Department of Defense, has a Security Cooperation Office in Guyana and serves as a military consultant to the Guyana Defense Force, providing support and training.

Following a national referendum in early December, Caracas laid claim to Guayana Esequiba, a mostly forested region that Venezuela claims to have owned for over a century. Guyana has protested, noting that the area amounts to two-thirds of its internationally recognized territory, and has asked for international assistance.

The dispute over the Essequibo area has intensified since 2015 when US-based energy giant ExxonMobil discovered oil deposits there. After the December referendum, US forces participated in joint military exercises with Guyana. In January, the British Royal Navy deployed patrol ship HMS Trent to Guyana as a show of support.

According to Maduro, the disputed region is being controlled by the Southern Command, the CIA, and ExxonMobil, which he believes are seeking to seize Venezuelan resources.