Last Updated on Sunday, 13 November 2022, 10:38 by Denis Chabrol
by GHK Lall
Her Excellency, Ambassador Sarah Ann Lynch spoke of inclusion and sustainability for all Guyanese recently (Demerara Waves, November 9). It was the American Ambassador, and not I. It is not the first time, nor the second, that Her Excellency has seen it fit to speak to inclusion in Guyana. It is either that she doesn’t know what she is talking about; or that the American plenipotentiary knows more than me, arguably all of us put together, when the issue of inclusion is at the heart of the discussion. There are some truths that must be acknowledged, and faced. I face them.
Ambassador Lynch has plenty of tools and resources at her disposal. While countless Guyanese may look upon the US Embassy as an extended consulate, a visa issuing presence and procedural root canal, its range of activities and interests are much more than that narrow sphere encircles. Also, the US Embassy is bigger and vaster than a trade, economic, cultural, and political apparatus. Focusing on the latter, I would assert that the US Embassy is a think tank, a research center, and an intelligence gathering network, among a host of other sensitive and serious exercises. Considering the pivotal place of Guyana in America’s oil map and geopolitical heatmap, the work of the US Embassy in Guyana has never been more comprehensive, and correspondingly deeper.
It is against this sprawling and focused backdrop that I weigh the words of Ambassador Lynch on “inclusion” and its new extension ‘sustainability.’ When people like me point to the issue of inclusion, there is scorn and dismissal. On the other hand, when no less a stellar and much-admired figure in Guyana as Ambassador Lynch makes it her duty to incorporate the issue of inclusion in her public appearances and public addresses, this should convey a few things to all Guyanese
First, for Ambassador Lynch to keep harping (pardon me, Excellency) on this nonstarter of “inclusion” relays that there is some degree of non-inclusion in what the PPP Government is delivering in Guyana. Second, whatever that degree of inclusion may be (if there is any at all), it is not enough, it is not acceptable, and it does not meet with favor. Third, this is how I interpret the clinical persistence of Ambassador Lynch in speaking to truth, and talking to power, about what really pertains inside the arc of this so-called inclusion touted by the PPP Government and its President. Fourth, when Ambassador Lynch so consistently features “inclusion” in Guyana, then it is not what the PPP Government, PPP leaders, and PPP agents say that it is. Fifth, in the coldblooded calculations of my fellow Americans, as spearheaded by Ambassador Lynch, the lack of “inclusion” in oil rich Guyana can never be favorable to commercial visions, viz. American business interests. This is not some passionate, prejudiced, and partisan Guyanese speaking for or against the presence of inclusion here, but an aloof and all-seeing and all-knowing American presence. Satellites and electronic eavesdropping equipment are not needed for this American conclusion.
Sixth, what was left unsaid in Ambassador Lynch’s spiel about the need for inclusion can and will be said by me: the lack of a satisfactory degree of inclusion fuels the twin devils of insecurity and instability. America has learned this to its great distress from its prior failures in places like Iran and Venezuela. It does not seek a repeat of that in torn and tormented Guyana; ethnic-driven, politically spiteful, and socially intolerant Guyana, an arena ripe for agitation and trouble. Seventh, the uneasiness of a significant segment of the Guyanese population is a source of considerable uneasiness on the part of Americans in the State Department, hence the Ambassador’s continued forays into the shark-filled waters of inclusion and its new partner in crime, sustainability for all.
Again, I sift through local circumstances to decipher Ambassador Lynch’s entrance into another pool of piranhas. Yes, she recognizes cash handouts and other programs, which are all commendable. The truth is that only one of the relief programs of the PPP Government has been genuinely national in scope and touch. It would be the COVID-19 aid delivery of GY$25,000 to each Guyanese family. Only that one has something of ‘all-ness’ about it; all Guyana, maybe some strain of ‘One Guyana.’ All the other cash relief programs have been cleverly targeted (farmers, flooded, sugar, fishers) to largely PPP populated constituencies, and do not possess the kind of universal assistance that is so direly required. While the Ambassador was careful not to charge too sharply in those directions, her point should not be missed.
Interestingly, Ambassador Lynch’s speaking to ‘sustainability for all’ has to be discerned for what it is. It is a diplomatic rap on the knuckles of the PPP Government and President Ali that what is being done is piecemeal, parttime, and prolific in its poverty of lasting value. What Ambassador Lynch is saying in nuanced language is what a few Guyanese (like me) have appealed to the President to consider. Handouts are good; but it is better to envision and deliver a well-thought out and structured and comprehensive plan that has enduring value. To say differently, it makes a difference long-term in the lives of all citizens. To table things in a harsher note, when Ambassador Lynch mentions sustainability for all, it is tantamount to her saying to the PPP Government: please rethink, reengineer, and restart. Cease and desist with these narrow programs and practices. Put a halt to the partisan performance. I hear her urging Government and President Ali: govern for all. Stop politicking. Be done with electioneering and campaigning under what are nothing but charitable cash camouflages.
Speak to all the people. Do for all the Guyanese people that which helps them to manage with confidence this demanding present into the long future. Lead them, and do for them what would be a manner befitting an oil-producing nation with some of the flashiest numbers around. Ambassador Lynch has done her duty. Mine has just begun.