Last Updated on Wednesday, 8 September 2021, 9:19 by Denis Chabrol
BY GHK Lall
The two media captions are arresting. They are “Venezuela’s gov’t, opposition formally agree to unite around border controversy with Guyana” and “Ali maintains precondition for engagement with Harmon” and Stabroek News (September 8) My thoughts follow.
Here the official reaction of the Guyana Government has been quick: “Guyana cannot be used as an altar of sacrifice for settlement of Venezuela’s internal political differences.” And further that Guyana is committed through international mechanisms to find a “peaceful resolution” to our border controversy. My reaction is that Guyana is going to so feature as “altar of sacrifice” for Venezuelan political purposes, and that the “peaceful resolution” through the recognized international court system will prove to be elusive for Guyana. But what has unfolded in Venezuela should serve as wakeup call to Guyana’s leaders, if they care to listen, then do ore and act: heal this nation, for a start.
Still, I confess that it is inspiring how a nation, once in the throes of alleged opposition-influenced foreign intervention and mercenary invasion, even low-burning civil war, could find ways to reconstitute at leadership levels. Its leaders could manifest the mental maturity to bond in defusing crisis situation for a way forward. There is Venezuela, and I congratulate its political captains, as I sense developing problems for my own Guyana. The land claims are not going away, but much of its treasure is in the meantime.
In Guyana, there is the incomparable absurdity of its head of state speaking for his governing group and insisting upon precondition. What could be more self-sabotaging than that? When the nation so ferociously divided? When our vigilant, on-the-move adversary unites? When our covetous neighbor discern their loss, and work to gain ground? No country, no leader, no ruling group can be this utterly destitute of vision. Or understanding of the implications of continuing divisions. When our leaders think and function like this, then Guyana has done the remarkable: it pierces the national body with Achilles heels all over.
Regarding the land that Venezuela covets, it will still be there, with wrangling over sovereignty continuing endlessly, fitfully, I believe inconclusively. That is, until somebody takes matters an aggressive step. it wouldn’t be Guyana. While the land stays fixed, the sum of its treasures is depleted at increasingly accelerated rates. If I were a Venezuelan leader, that is unacceptable. Unallowable, too. This hemorrhage of the asserted national patrimony cannot be permitted to continue indefinitely. For then, only the land will be left.
I think Venezuela knows more about how much natural resources wealth we have than we do. It knows more about crude than we will ever know. I hate to say it, but must: all the accumulated lessons of its history. Venezuela knows the extent of our treasures, and is most agitated at the speed of ventures (AMCHAM), exploration (Exxon et al.) production approvals (Guyana and EPA). I also believe that they know the Vice President better than most Guyanese. They know that the VP is in a race, because the gems are being plucked out of the oil seabed, and possibly only pebbles will be left, which is why we now hear about possible renegotiation. Similarly, I am sure that they recognize the president for what he is, and what he embodies: a paper president, a man of sand and straw. So, they focus on the VP, he is where the action is, the decisions finalize and are implemented. When the closely following Venezuelans study Guyana, they appreciate a diminishing asset. So, now they are in a footrace with the waves of pending American commercial invasion to strip us bare; the Venezuelans close ranks. Why squabble and string each other up in the national yard, while the house is being emptied through the backdoor next door? Why set a trapdoor for self? Venezuelans remove fences, Guyana erects them. Venezuela lay brcks in the road, we dig them up.
Inexplicably, this is where Guyana, through its puppet president, maintains that it must remain. Divided; apart, not reconciling. Not even taking the first tottering steps. Well, the first word has been uttered: ‘precondition’ which means ‘recognize’ and ‘legitimate.’ Caustic words come, but I shelve them, settle for unconvincing. I do concede, though, that the president has a flair for messengering the absurd and transforming it into the bizarre.
My position is simple: I am the government, and governments do not beg those who lost for recognition, to accord to them the seal of legitimacy. This is compelling a pretense to lend credence to my own existence. Of that I will have none, and leaders in the Guyana Government shouldn’t, if they have any self-respect left. Any such forced utterance of ‘legitimate’ would ring grievously in the record, still hollower, because of everyone knowing it has zero admissibility in the court of public opinion. Why add ridicule to rising disrespect? But I think it is a ploy, since it serves Exxon’s interests to maintain Guyanese in a divided state, and with the opposition recompensed to play along. Thus, both sides make a public show of digging in heels, while both multitudes make monsters of the other.
To digress, the Americans and British could have looked the other way, sat around the table, and partnered with the likes of Klaus Barbie and Walter Schellenberg of Wannsee Institute notoriety, both the worst of Nazi criminals. Bu we are such fanatics that we employ semantics to camouflage ulterior agendas, can’t move one muscle towards needed a national handshake.
Indeed, oil does make men mad. So, too, does democracy and its compromises for consensus