Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 February 2022, 7:12 by Denis Chabrol
by GHK Lall
America is unhappy with how things are in Guyana, one in particular, then another. The two are interrelated, and the cause of much anxiety on the part of senior Americans at high elevations, the highest. This was confirmed by the article captioned, “US President calls for stronger democracy, inclusion in Guyana” (Demerara Waves, February 22). Like I said, something in Guyana is contributing to the discomfort of Americans all the way to the White House, which is saying something. I approach and interpret this from several angles.
For starters, President Joe Biden is caught up and very much occupied with his number one crisis at this moment. It is the long and escalating standoff, stare down if you will, with Russia, over developments in Ukraine. Matters keep escalating, and this is the kind of situation that the world watches nervously, since one miscalculation, one misinterpretation, and one misstep could lead into the unknown and the uncontrollable. The crisis in Ukraine has to be keeping up President Biden at nights; or at least stretching his days by hours that he does not have the luxury of sparing, past the point of the humanly tolerable. Yet here he is with an eye on and a word for Guyana. I sense a warning word, and though it may be the first from President Biden, it is not the first from America, which is aimed dead center at the PPPC Government and its leaders, and their way of governing this country.
It is too self-centered and self-serving of the interests and prosperities of PPPC leaders in Government and their cronies. It leaves out too many Guyanese, particularly those who need a helping hand the most. And, at the crux of the actions and the contentions that flare from them, it is too divisive and tribal and antagonizing to long-term peace and stability in this country. At the risk of overreach, American leaders at the heights do not have the time for day for Guyana. Back in Cold War days, the spread of communism, and domino the effect prompted intervention and closeup rearrangements in Guyana, with U.S. Presidents maintaining a safe and diplomatic distance from the workings of Guyana. Venezuela over there, and oil right here, influenced rebalancing the priority of Guyana in American eyes. What used to be left to the State Department now finds voice from the White House, even at a time like this.
I detect some worry on America’s part. The opposition is too quiet, though agitating a tad more recently. I think that men here and elsewhere are contacting ranking Americans and sharing their fears, and the fears of what could come, if circumstances are left as they are. That is, to let the rampaging and unhearing and unheeding leaders in today’s PPPC Government run amok in almost every area of leadership, politics, and governance. In fact, politics and governance have become so entangled that there is extreme difficulty in determining where one ends and the other begins. That is, if real governance ever begins at any time. Because this is so and raging, from America’s perspective, it is detrimental and dangerous. Detrimental and dangerous for Guyana, which means detrimental and dangerous for Exxon first. And, perhaps even more importantly and relevantly, to America’s visions and interests in the region.
Using that same blueprint in some respects, Her Excellency, Ambassador Sarah Ann Lynch, has articulated an identical call (and caution) as her President in public forums on at least one occasion that I can recall. There may have been more that eludes me presently, but the record is of her doing so in some fashion what Joe Biden took the time to deliver in the heat of global tensions. It is of inclusion, of oil benefiting all citizens. For emphasis: all citizens of this newly oil rich country. The same can be said for the British who have weighed-in in their usual understated way. I think that America and Great Britain, when they speak and take these public positions about inclusion and expansion of oil richness to benefit all Guyanese are speaking for the C and E in the ABC&E alliance that did so much for the PPPC during our possible stormiest elections ever; the Canadians and Europeans are content to let the Anglo-American tag team lead the way. I conclude that their strongest word yet to President Ali and the Vice President can be distilled to this: be alerted, be forewarned, be proactive in responding tangibly to what is presented in not so nuanced form. Like me, the Americans observe protocol by including the head of state in the mix, and only as a courtesy.
For their part, leaders in the PPPC Government find themselves in a bind. Having reached for, cultivated, and accepted powerful American backing during the life and death elections season, from beginning to finish line (possibly beyond), they cannot claim the old line of ‘internal meddling’ since they are the primary beneficiaries of such meddling, or whatever it is termed nowadays. They have a choice: continue in the same manner to their peril; or introduce genuine change. Perhaps, it is timely to reintroduce that little hymn that was sung by USAID recently (sharing), which is now echoed by no less a figure than President Joe Biden himself in a variation of the language. The fact that he could be so engaged by what is happening in the Ukraine, and still find time to make a call on Guyana, and about the need for ‘stronger democracy and inclusion’ speaks for itself.
My last point is this: given the swirl and rush of events in Guyana and globally, I do not think that the PPPC Government and its leaders have the cushion of the tolerances that they enjoyed for 23 years. The ABC&E people were upset then. Today they are impatient because they fail to detect any of the leadership rehabilitation envisioned, probably promised. They discern worse. Change ways. Or….