Disputed Guayana Esequiba in light green with the rest of Guyana in dark green; Venezuela shown in orange. Illustration by Aquintero82 from Wikipedia.
“The United States and Guyana will begin joint maritime patrols aimed at drug interdiction near the South American country’s disputed border with crisis-stricken Venezuela, the U.S. secretary of state and Guyana’s new president said on Friday.”
I presume this is going to involve the US Coast Guard, given that it is about drug enforcement and cutters still comprise the majority of 4th Fleet ships.
Venezuela and Guyana have a long standing territorial dispute, with Venezuela claiming about two thirds of Guyana. This, of course, extends into the offshore waters in regard to EEZ.
Venezuela’s armed forces are about 50 times more powerful than those of Guyana. Guyana has no combat aircraft and no navy. They do have a very small coast guard. Venezuela has a respectable navy including two submarines, three frigates and six well armed OPVs.
Discovery of oil in the disputed offshore areas is also an issue. The USCG has had a hand in this dispute already. Venezuela may still be mad at us because of this apparent misunderstanding. When the President announced a surge in counter drug ops back in April, Venezuela was specifically mentioned. In June the Navy did a Freedom of Navigation operation off Venezuela because Venezuela is claiming a 15 mile territorial sea.
Hopefully things will not get too interesting down there.