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Newly elected Guyana President pledges support for Caricom, South America

Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces President David Granger, inspecting the Guard of Honour at his inauguration ceremony which was held at the Guyana National Stadium. (GINA photo)

President David Granger has pledged his country’s support to Caribbean integration while at the same time he has highlighted the role of Guyana and its immediate neighbours in South American security.

Addressing thousands of persons at his Inauguration Ceremony held at the Guyana National Stadium, Providence, East Bank Demerara on Sunday; the President said his administration would seek to improve relations with the Caribbean at large. “We shall strengthen our ties with our neighbours, starting with the Caribbean, starting with Caricom and including the wider Caribbean,” he said.

Granger recalled that hours after he was sworn in as President, he held talks with the Secretary General of the 15-nation Caribbean Community (Caricom), Ambassador Irwin La Rocque “because we wanted to send a message.”

The President announced that Foreign Minister Carl Greenidge has been tasked to “work tirelessly with every single state of the Caribbean Community and the wider Caribbean to ensure complete compliance with the Treaty of Chaguaramas” which established the regional grouping.

Last year May, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ordered Guyana to pay a Surinamese beverage company, Rudisa Beverages, more than US$6 million that had been collected in environmental tax in violation of the Treaty of Chaguaramas.  The then Guyana government had attempted to amend the law but such efforts had been rejected by the then opposition, which now forms the government after the May 11, 2015 general elections, because the administration then had refused to conclude proper consultations with the private sector.

The Guyanese leader used Independence Day- May 26, 2015- to “affirm and reaffirm” Guyana’s friendly relations with Brazil, Venezuela and Suriname, saying that they have a collective responsibility for continental security.  “Our four neighbouring republics- Brazil, Guyana, Venezuela and Suriname- together have much to contribute to the security and the stability of the South American continent, to the success of the Union of South American States, to the Organisation of American States and to the happiness of our peoples,” said Granger, a retired Brigadier of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF).

Venezuela and Brazil are widely regarded as major sources of cocaine and illegal arms to Guyana, Suriname and Caribbean islands.  The United States has long identified Guyana as a transshipment point for South American cocaine to North America. 

Through UNASUR’s infrastructure integration programmne for the construction of road and bridge links among member states, experts hope that eventually there will be a boost in trade and greater people-to-people contact.