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OPINION: Guyana – a gathering place for all except locals

by GHK Lall

There they are operating under different foreign flags in local waters: Norwegian ships charting and collecting; multinational ExxonMobil readying and salivating; American State Department (and outgoing US Ambassador) shifting and solidifying partnership gears through comforting sounds.  As if not to be left out of the festivities, Caricom countries and the British (I think) have spoken favorably. And I would be remiss if I were to forget the ubiquitous Middle Kingdom from the Far East casting about left and right for an opening to extend its burgeoning dreams of a far-flung global empire. Suddenly, little Guyana, once backward Guyana, is everybody’s best friend, and everyone is seeking some loving.

There are two ever-present problems in this otherwise rosy picture. I call this the miracle and nectar of oil. Who needs honey (in any form) or gold (be it metallic or liquid) when there is oil by the billion?  The first problem is that everyone is not speaking with one voice. That is, save for those zealously committed to much analyzing (still); and the sorry simmering rest of the masses reaching for each other’s throat with all manner of mayhem in their hearts (still).  The locals cannot – will not – get their act together, and are so patently lost that they refuse to learn. And this brings me to the second problem that I have warned about repeatedly, and which is either ignored or scorned or found hilarious. I encourage my Guyanese brethren to keep laughing. For the second problem was revealed in a Bloomberg article dated December 27th and titled, “Venezuela Unites (for once) Around Guyana Territorial Dispute.” As much as I am dismayed to read of this development, I must congratulate these neighbors of ours.  Like I said, oil has that elixir effect on even the most obstinate.

It is such a powerful elixir that I learned and share for those interested that, “The socialist government… and its political opponents…starkly divided over the past two decades have suddenly united around a common theme: the century-old dispute with Guyana. I suppose I should extend that petro-powered unification mindset to those neighbors who have sought refuge and hospitality here. After all, oil is oil; and all those good folks possess the good sense, the strong willingness, to set aside differences and hostilities to ensure that the potential is never relinquished. What is the matter with us?

I will tell you what it is that is happening here. Guyanese are so disfigured mentally, racially, and politically (really a tight interrelationship) that for most disunity is a form of unity, is a paradigm for unity. And that is the best that we intend to do, and will do, regardless. Like it or lump it; take it or leave it. This is the height of local intellect, hence the ongoing squabbling; the degradation of division into a hard, unyielding cultural norm.  Unsurprisingly, the disputatious takes precedence over simple commonsense. The Bloomberg article went on to mention that the action taken to interfere with the work of the Norwegian vessel, as viewed through one commentator’s eyes and pen, is “correct” and that, “All Venezuelans, without distinction for political position, must support it and send a clear message of unity in defense of our territory.” I think that no comment is required from me on this naked bit of jingoism about “our territory,” even as I try to bottle the anger.

My greater distaste is reserved for those who bicker about percentages, and make hay about Angola and others,            while this existential threat lurks right under eyelid and nostril. Surely, we cannot be this blind, this irrational? Surely, there can be only misplaced pride in the petty monetary arguments, while others gather (unify) to separate from stock and barrel. We continue to insist on being ferociously occupied with counting the small change (pennies), while others plot to take away the bank. My sense is that if the whole bank is somehow snatched away, there will still be debating and dissecting in the towers and trenches. Guyanese have fallen in love with the purity of their contentions, while losing touch with reality. I have warned on more than one occasion that no Venezuelan political or military figure, whether in government or opposition, whether internal allies or adversaries could ever be motivated part with the fabled prize at their feet. And this thinking extends to any and all of their citizens. This is a dogfight cum back alley fight. In the meantime, and rather sadly, Guyanese continue to fight amongst themselves. If this is not moronic, then somebody tell me what is, please.