After a referendum on the question of whether Guyana's territory belongs to Venezuela in which hardly any Venezuelan voter participated, Nicolas Maduro made a series of statements that are causing concern (?) in some places: Venezuela's map has been redrawn to include most of Guyana; PDVSA is to create new divisions that will seek to grant licenses in Guyana's territory to exploit oil & gas; the Venezuelan army -which has been put in "war alert"- is to oversee from a center of operations in Tumeremo that inhabitants of the "reclaimed" area receive Venezuelan citizenship and related documents. In addition, Maduro's Attorney General charged with treason and issued arrest warrants for a number of politicians, some of whom associated to opposition leader Maria Corina Machado. Curiously, Rafael Ramirez and Andres Izarra made it into the list. The question being asked is whether Maduro is about to launch a war of agression against Guyana, and the answer is: most definitely not.
It is our opinion that all Maduro is doing is manufacturing an issue with Guyana based on a "territorial dispute" that successive Venezuelan governments -including chavismo- have not paid any attention to. It could be debated that Venezuela got the wrong end of the deal, when over 100 years ago in 1899, an agreement between the U.S (representing Venezuela) and Great Britain (at the time Guyana's government) was detrimental. In the 124 years since then, Venezuela has done nothing serious from a legal standpoint to challenge the 1899 decision. The issue pops in the national conversation every now and then, but no sustained State policy actions to solve the dispute and regain the territory have ever been implemented, that's the fact.
Maduro's bluff is his insubstantial sabre-rattling. If he were serious about launching a war of agression, he'd done so without referendum, televised broadcasts or ordering the military to set up camp in Tumeremo, hundreds of miles away from border with Guyana. This is Venezuela we're talking about, a country whose army's most lethal combat action in the last decades has been against unarmed civilians. Guyana has nothing to fear.
Maria Corina Machado, on the other hand, and her close collaborators and financial supporters, they are the ones about to be subjected to Maduro's war of agression. They are the ones who'll end up in jail, exiled, or worse. The opposition primaries and its result are the root cause of Maduro's non-existent "territorial dispute" with Guyana. The Barbados agreement between regime, opposition, and international facilitators of October 17 was the first casualty of the "dispute". Maduro never intended to honor an agreement that forced him to allow for free and fair elections. Nonetheless he needed "justification", and what better trick that manufacturing a conflict with the poorest neighbour?
Unlike his Russian counterpart, Maduro has not miscalculated. There won't be combat or military action. No territory will be gained or "reclaimed". Whatever is given in terms of oil concessions won't be worth the paper is written on. But his goal of retaining power and completely annihilate political opponents is guaranteed.
Maduro knows how to "keep the peace" within Venezuela's borders. Sanctions aren't something that keep him up at night. The Venezuelan army is too busy being an extremely efficient and wealthy drug cartel, and when it comes to oil trading, there will never be a shortage of players willing to engage regardless of what happens. Even the White House, in theory a guarantor of the promised democratisation process signed in Barbados, is calling Maduro's allies (Trinidad's Energy Minister Stuart Young) to give assurances that whatever happens internally in Venezuela it won't affect granted OFAC license. ENI and Repsol have already inked deals, with Treasury's approval. Chevron is of course the best example of Maduro's imbecilic claims, operating in both Venezuela and Guyana, despite the recent threat from the Venezuelan regime that companies that have been granted concessions and operate in the neighbouring country won't be allowed in Venezuela's energy sector.
Then there's CARICOM, historically chavismo's best ally at the OAS. Since Petrocaribe is no longer providing free oil to impoverished islands in the Caribbean (apart from Cuba), they've rallied around Guyana. But so has Cuba! Lula won't come to the rescue in this instance either, and whatever Petro does at the other end of the country is immaterial. China, as always playing the long game, has a very strong presence in Guyana's booming gas and oil space and it won't be drawn into Maduro's Call of Duty.
This site would argue that Maduro has no means to carry out any military threat against anyone other than housewives, students, and harmless opposition politicos. In fact, Venezuela's army has not been involved in armed conflict since decades before that 1899 agreement. The only people that have to dread Maduro's actions are the people still living in Venezuela.