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Granger denies he or gov’t hired US lobbying firm, despite official documents

President David Granger

President David Granger on Friday distanced himself and his caretaker administration from a United States (US) lobbying firm, despite official records filed with the United States government, stating that the Ministry of the Presidency is the client and that its Director-General, Joseph Harmon is the point person.

“The Government of Guyana has not hired JJ&B, LLC and has no contractual arrangement or affiliation with the said firm. No Government funds were used to hire the firm,” the Ministry of the Presidency said. Government also stated categorically that, “President Granger was not involved in the hiring of the said lobby firm.”

The document was filed with the United States Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act on March 31, 2020, but only came to light earlier this week through an opposition statement.

This is direct contradiction to Harmon definitively stating earlier this week that the administration would not allow the government and the country to be besmirched by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and Mercury Public Affairs, an American lobbying firm that opposition party hired.

The statement issued Friday afternoon did not say whether the US lobby firm, JJ&B, was hired instead by the coalition of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC).

Granger’s rejection of any links with JJ&B came one day after Harmon said that that lobbying firm was paid by “upset” APNU+AFC supporters who had pooled their funds to respond to the PPP’s narrative that had been peddled in Washington DC and other major western capitals.

The papers filed by JJ&B state that it has been mandated “to facilitate resolution of dispute regarding recent presidential election in Guyana, and to improve relations between Guyana and the United States. In doing this, we will be contacting officials in the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. Government, as well as providing information to news media.”

The dossier, which bears the APNU+AFC logo, includes unfavourable perspectives about China and Russia with which Guyana has enjoyed diplomatic relations for several decades. In that document, the Granger government is promoted as “pro-American” and warns the US that Russia, China and Venezuela were about to take control of a large swath of natural resources off the northern coast of South America if the PPP gets back into office. “If the PPP gets control of Guyana, China and Russia will control the Northern region of South America, from Venezuela to Suriname, and natural resources far exceeding Saudi Arabia’s,” the dossier states.

Further, “the Ministry of the Presidency wishes to make pellucid that the President is not a citizen of the United States of America or any other foreign country as is being suggested by way of documents submitted to the United States Department of Justice and published in the press. He is Guyanese.”

The Ministry urged Guyanese to be responsible when making public statements and at all times seek out the truth rather than disseminating spurious claims.