Last Updated on Sunday, 24 July 2022, 10:06 by Denis Chabrol
by GHK Lall
I discern some impatience and frustration on the part of Americans with Guyana, specifically its leaders. Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch carried the-then opposition PPP on her back, and almost singlehandedly powered it back into office. The handholding and cajoling continue less publicly these days. What I sense, though, is a weariness in the most visible and audible official American presence here. I think that winds have shifted somewhat imperceptibly, which could signal a wee bit of trouble for arrogant, unheeding and slippery leaders in the PPP Government. A shift is on the way, and it has significance for governance in Guyana.
Iran links arms with the Russians; Saudis declare allegiance to OPEC+ (Russians again). The Chinese benefit from the volatile mix, with only North Koreans missing, likely busy perfecting their next device. Cumulatively, I recognize a seismic shift of oil influence from the long dominant, now beleaguered West, to the increasingly coalescing and muscular East, be such Middle East or Far East. When I speak of West, I encourage thinking of America first, maybe only; with a glance at Europe having its usefulness. But there is this gathering of a mighty galaxy of adversaries arrayed in formidable strength against the U.S. Gradually and alarmingly, oil assets in those woods, now increasingly an anti-American hood, diminish for American interests.
Using this as context, I think some regrouping and redrawing of the oil map is due for prime time moves. Venezuelan oil features most prominently, and whenever that country is mentioned, I stop whatever I am doing and sit up. I think that a slow, nuanced relaxation of sanctions is imminent, with oil imports being one of the early moves by America, which opens the door for other nonoil American big business interests rushing forward to tip their toes in rich Venezuelan pickings. Indeed, the Orinoco oil is heavy, but Chevron had pioneered the technology to refine it, with a spot of extra cost necessary. Also, our neighbors oil infrastructure has suffered from severe degradation due to neglect, incompetence, too much government, theft, sabotage, and more. Lots of money waiting to be made in Venezuela, and I can only see America mending fences and restarting over there, while using some subtle language to shield its real necessities and objectives. Sanctions have clearly run their course, done their damages, and the signals of a thawing have bene seeping into the mainstream. As aside and parallel, peek at the change in Europe towards Africa’s fossil sources, which may ease climate change priorities.
With Canadian, Permian, North Dakotan, Latin American, and Venezuelan oil, there would be more than enough production and reserves to counter those lined up eastward against my northern Uncle and cousins. Guyana’s and Suriname’s oil would still have significance, but with other regional openings, this country’s government could be reduced to second tier importance in the bigger scheme of American interests. This does not mean abandonment at all, but I think we would be given freer rein to deal with our issues on our own terms. Read me. It also frees up America to act appropriately to address the many governmental and leadership perversities embedded here.
As presented before, it is clear that America is concerned about corruption and inclusion here. Officials have hinted, raised concerns, pushed hard for changes, but without conspicuous success. Having been so instrumental in powering elements of democracy locally, there must be serious disappointment that matters standstill (or worse) in many areas. These include money laundering, political financing, regulatory implementation and enforcement, media matters, and genuine reforms in vital areas. I don’t think that the Americans have the stomach, the time, or the interest, to invest as they did in 2019-20 to lift this society out of the gutter, and to set on new pathways, since largely ignored. This is with due consideration of the presence of now well-established Exxon, Hess, Baker Hughes, Schlumberger, and others of similar Stars and Bars stripes. They can and will manage nicely.
I believe that the Americans are ready for a change of venue, atmosphere, and leadership; this directly results from both the PPP’s and PNC’s commitments to fighting the last war, rather than explore the new lease of peace. Guyana’s current leaders could be squeezed for failures with their laundering friends. Look at those Latin Americans making it into that Rogues Gallery called the Engel List (a blacklist). It’s for being corrupt actors here, and that was long before VICE News revelations. A look to Venezuela and slight shifts in posture could mean a lot here. America ramps up its geopolitical and strategic interests to beat back its enemies gloating at its perceived weaknesses; the objective is to refocus and reprioritize over there, and be back on the ground floor where all that oil (and other business) is concerned. Meanwhile Guyanese get to romp and frolic in the mud which they know best. Regarding how the multinationals react, that’s another story to unfold; but they can take care of themselves, and are in full control in the local environment. On us governing ourselves, that is another story altogether.