OPINION: Maduro must not stand, united Guyana must stand

Last Updated on Sunday, 10 January 2021, 10:17 by Denis Chabrol

By GHK Lall

It is with considerable interest and alarm I read the headline only of the article captioned, “Venezuelan Maduro vows to “reconquer” Essequibo; makes new decree” (KN January 9).  My alarm at this latest neighborhood jarring should be that of all Guyanese; it is a wakeup call, definitely a timely and most needed one.

First, I must give it to the Venezuelan strongman, who has more political lives than a cat.  Say whatever it is that has to be said about him, but this campesino cum hidalgo cum Bolivarian is a survivor: he has outfoxed domestic opponents and outlasted everything that the still mighty United States has thrown at him.  That alone makes him extremely dangerous to this country, where most are oblivious to the existential threat to Guyana’s well-being that he and his country represent.  For here was a man who was down and out, but one who has now bounced back and dancing on his toes, and is already launching verbal salvos and decrees against this country.  That means me and mine, and I don’t take kindly to Senor Maduro at all on this.

Clearly, the wily and resourceful political leader bided (no pun) his time, and is now resurgent.  Interestingly, he seized the chaotic interregnum in Washington, D.C., compliments of his unthinking archenemy over there and on the way out, and wedged himself into the proceedings again.  For the time being I settle for ‘proceedings’ which is a euphemism that covers a lot of territory, none of them positive for Guyana.  Also clearly, those agreements and maritime developments had to have made the man and his people smart and simmer over there.  So, here he is flexing his newfound lease on life, and making threats about “reconquer.”  I would hope that Guyanese all the way to the top-the president, vice president, Opposition Leader et al.-have paused from whatever they are doing and straightened up with one thought in mind: this bears paying the closest attention to, if only to determine where this leads eventually and by what mechanisms.  In terms of the latter, I am not talking about decrees.

At present, we are extremely busy over here with things primarily oil.  We are so busy that we have gotten a shade too full of ourselves, which is evident from the swagger and Lone Ranger mentality that prevails in ruling political circles.  It is time for the PPP government to rethink, regroup, and rebuild some solid plank of communication immediately with the opposition leadership.  Our neighbor is talking (boasting openly) about “reconquer”, therefore it is time that we in this country start talking about reconciling.  By that I mean togetherness, oneness, sameness at every level in this society, if only to appreciate where we are and what we are up against.  I have said time and again, the Venezuelan menace is not going to go away.  It will outlive Mr. Maduro and his political offspring.  But that country’s spurious claims to large parts of Guyana is never going away.  That much is guaranteed.

Yes, we have the American powerhouse Exxon and its 2% contract reality; this is where the rubber hits the road and all those percentages surrendered must be earned by the Americans.  The Americans have to show their mettle and where they stand.  This much I have said until blue in the face during the coalition’s reign.  Now, the insurance premium lodged must be honored by those who came and signed agreements, and stuffed numerous things down the throats of one government after another, especially the present one.  Mr. Maduro has rattled his first saber and loudly.  The Venezuelan jefe has made clear where he stands; and now the Americans who benefit so much have to demonstrate where they stand, too.

Simultaneously, the first order of business for us here is for Guyanese political leaders to close ranks publicly to signal that this country is united in standing against whatever comes, whatever “reconquer” signifies, and whatever else Mr. Maduro may have in mind.  I am not speaking about sound bites, photo ops, and rhetoric only.  For the first and last time: togetherness is key, togetherness is paramount, togetherness is everything.  And as a cautionary note, not merely for the expedient of this current Venezuelan bellicosity (which I think applies), but going forward.  Many may not like to hear any of this last part, but then I leave them with this: the choice of poisons is theirs to pick and swallow.