Brazil increases northern border military presence amid Venezuela-Guyana spat -ministry

FILE PHOTO: Venezuelans participate in an electoral simulation of a referendum over disputed territory, in Caracas

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil "has intensified defensive actions" along its northern border as it monitors a territorial dispute between its neighbors, Guyana and Venezuela, the country's defense ministry said on Wednesday.

"The Ministry of Defense has been monitoring the situation. Defensive actions have been intensified in the northern border region of the country, promoting a greater military presence," it said in a statement.

Brazil's push to move more military resources north comes amid rising tensions between Venezuela and Guayana over an oil-rich region known as the "Esequiba," which constitutes over two thirds of Guyana's total land mass.

Venezuela's claims on the Esequiba, which have been the source of a long-running territorial dispute, were reignited in recent years after Guyana's discovery of oil and gas near the maritime border.

On Dec. 3, Venezuelans will vote in a referendum on "the rights" to the Esequiba. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is expected to rule on Friday on a request by Guyana that the referendum be called off. Venezuela's government has said it will go ahead no matter what.

Venezuela protested an oil tender announced by Guyana in September, arguing that the offshore areas are subject to dispute and the companies awarded the fields will not have the rights to explore them.

The Venezuelan communications ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Brazil's actions.

(Reporting by Ricardo Brito and Peter Frontini; Additional reporting by Vivian Sequera in Caracas; Writing by Gabriel Stargardter, Editing by Diane Craft and Sandra Maler)