OPINION: President Ali must be more than words, he must deliver; he hasn’t

Last Updated on Friday, 12 February 2021, 8:24 by Denis Chabrol

by GHK Lall

I share a couple thoughts on President Ali’s inaugural address to the National Assembly.  I am trying to give Guyana’s Head of State a free head to run wherever he wishes, while I wait to see the substances behind his many promises.  I say that he is long on promise, with what follows speaking for itself.

First, President Ali said that Guyana will not be the “pawn or puppet” of any power.  That certainly has a nice patriotic ring to it, until one reads the fine print, the qualification, so to speak.  The president was very specific: military bases.  I agree with the president, because that OAS vote (against the grain) for the American-backed candidate does not amount to the establishment of a military facility.  Ditto: the snafu over some Taiwanese office; incidentally, I humbly recommend that the president familiarize himself with what snafu means.  I could point to Mighty Mike Pompeo coming here and steamrolling the PPP leadership, so that all danced in lovely imitations of puppets.  Exxon has established an economic base; and the rest of the American invasion is on the way, which I like.  But, of course, none of those is a military base being established; simply a more nuanced form of base presence, big power puppeteering, and host country complying.  To be clear, when the powers (A and C and R) can get local leaders to agree to take place covertly, or under legitimate umbrellas, then there is little need for the power projection of base diplomacy.  The Americans already have a floating one under the auspices of that joint maritime agreement, which I call an open-ended naval base.  Welcome to Caribbean style war games, Guyana.

On this issue of a base, this where I stand.  If it safeguards against the covetous, I am for it.  If it brings in the bacon, then let it sizzle.  It could be healthy.  It is why I think David Granger erred.  I remind of Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines and the many ways that he used bases as bargaining chips, to the frustrations of successive’ American presidents.  A real ‘smaat-man’, he was.  And regardless of what form a base assumes here, as long as it is American, then tally ho, heave ho, and cheerio.  I have a caution for our green (not PNC green) leader: be careful with serving two masters.

Then, I read (never heard any of these presidents speak, except one in small meetings) that President Ali is rolling out a “One Guyana Commission.”  I laud the initiative, despite my own harsh misgivings on our national motto, which speaks of “one” not once, but thrice, and look where we are.  I do hope that the president is not engaging in more sloganeering with that “One Guyana Commission.”  Now, though the leader has failed abjectly to his commitment to be Transparency Ali, he conveniently switches gears and tries his hand at being His Excellency, Comrade Unity Ali.  I will be so bold as to counsel Guyana’s president: do not bring overtures, sir, through side doors and backdoors, while slamming the front door shut in the faces of those that he and his people single out to denigrate.  I urge all to peer closely at that word “denigrate” and understand where I stand.  Unless President Ali embarks on reversing that through authentic inclusion, then he is about nothing other than those long-ago lyrics from the Bee Gees that I now paraphrase: all I have is words, and words are all I have to take down a primrose path.  I point to parliamentary exclusions, public service expulsions, and (as somebody mentioned) the different strokes for sugar versus bauxite.  According to Demerara Waves, Excellency Ali says he wants to build trust, forge partnerships.  A question might be timely: with whom?  Certainly, those are not built on what has happened in the brief time that the PPP has been in office.

Last, I notice that President Ali’s speechwriters are heavy on stirring quotes from the reputable and resonant.  I like that, too.  But, sometime or the other, Guyana’s president will  have to demonstrate concretely, what he is made of beyond quotes and words.  As Christian Scriptures say, faith is good; but faith without works is dead.  To put so that the president comprehends: words without the confirming foundations of stellar deeds, are nothing but mere words.  As empty as the wind, and as hollow as the receding echoes they create in passing.  I would loathe to think that Guyana’s president is just a Christmas blo-blo.  And year-round , too.