By SIMON ROMERO
Published: December 12, 2007CARACAS, Venezuela — Guyana said this week that it would lodge a protest against Venezuela at the United Nations, following reports of an incursion into Guyanese territory by Venezuelan soldiers who destroyed two gold-mining dredges with explosives.
The move points to renewed tension between the two countries, despite efforts by the government of President Hugo Chávezto smooth over a long-simmering territorial dispute with shipments of subsidized oil to Guyana. Venezuela still claims about two-thirds of Guyana's territory, in the gold- and timber-rich Essequibo region.
"Our sovereignty comes first," Rudy Insanally, Guyana's foreign minister, said in a statement on Monday. "Everyone must understand that."
The tension involves the region around the Cuyuni River, a porous area claimed by both Guyana and Venezuela that is rife with illegal mining. Guyana's military contends 36 Venezuelan soldiers entered the area in mid-November, using helicopters and C-4 explosives to blow up the dredges.