With Venezuelan Military on the Move, Country Claims ‘Illegal’ Concessions Are Being Granted on Its Territory

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The government of Venezuela accused neighboring Guyana Sunday of granting illegal oil exploration concessions in territory the two nations are disputing. Venezuela said it would reserve the right to take any diplomatic actions necessary.

The comments Sunday came after Guyana said Saturday that it has satellite imagery showing Venezuelan military movements near the South American country’s eastern border with Guyana.

Venezuela’s statement did not deny Guyana’s claim of a military and infrastructure buildup. Rather, it said it was within its rights to beef up its border forces.

Venezuela claimed Guyana had granted “illegal oil concessions … in a maritime area that is indisputably Venezuelan.”

Oil giant ExxonMobil has said it will keep ramping up production in offshore fields off Guyana despite the escalation of the territorial dispute.

The two sides have feuded over border lines for decades. Venezuela has been laying claim to the mineral-rich Essequibo region, which covers about two thirds of Guyana’s surface area.

Both sides accused the other of breaching a peace agreement signed in the Caribbean in December to ease tensions over border demarcation lines.

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