A Brazilian delegation’s quick trip to Guyana and Suriname suggests things are moving beneath the surface of the border dispute between Venezuela and Guyana. On Feb. 7, Brazilian President Michel Temer approved a trip by Defense Minister Raul Jungmann, Justice Minister Torquato Jardim and Institutional Security Cabinet Chief Sergio Etchegoyen to Guyana and Suriname. According to Agencia Estado, the visit’s purpose is to discuss border security with the Guyanese and Surinamese governments. However, an unconfirmed report in Brazilian paper O Antagonista claimed the real reason behind the visit was to share information that Brazil’s intelligence services had learned about Venezuela considering a military incursion into Guyana.
Venezuela has claimed ownership over the Guyanese territory west of the Essequibo River since 1962. But recently, the U.N. Secretary General referred the border dispute issue to the International Court of Justice, which may issue a binding decision on the matter within the next several years. According to the O Antagonista report, Brazil’s information claims that the Venezuelan government is considering siezing that territory. On Feb. 8, the Brazilian ministers visited their country’s Roraima state, an area bordering Guyana and Venezuela that has seen tens of thousands of Venezuelan refugees pour across the border in recent months as unrest in the country grows.