OPINION: Guyana border controversy: many friends, one fiend to balance those

Last Updated on Sunday, 14 April 2024, 17:50 by Writer

by GHK Lall

Guyana is now at the rarest elevation in its checkered history. Anybody and everybody are rushing forward to identify as this country’s friend. That is, except for Venezuela. Much obliged. Relative to the border controversy, Guyana is now in the comforting position of having more allies, backers, champions, and a devoted following than any other place in the world. It is enough for the head to spin and electrify the spirit to soar with joy. Mine does.

The latest in the parade of those taking Guyana’s side in this dratted tumor-in-belly border controversy is the UN Security Council. With a friend of such compelling stature, there is no one who would dare think of raising a finger against the wellbeing of this little, vulnerable, troubled nation. Oil lubricates all, clears all pathways, and makes all salivate. The latter verb is what drives the jefe from next door into fits of frenzy. At this stage in his calculations, I ask myself whether he could be such a crazy baldhead to take things too far. I recall that Richard Nixon used to play mad to encourage the world, none more than adversaries, to conclude that he was really and truly mad. Playing mad has its advantages, and I believe that Nicolás Maduro has done his numbers and could persuade himself that they are all bluff and nothing but fluff. Therefore, the next mad move rests with him. I think that this man across the creek fancies himself as Venezuela’s last action hero, a Mad Max on the move. The man who went where none of his predecessors went before. Thus, he smirks in his lair and shrugs his shoulders at developments like the one coming out of the UN Security Council.

Likewise for the Commonwealth, and the OAS, and the French, and the comrades from CARICOM, however sideways some of its members walk the tricky Guyana-Venezuela border tightrope and trapdoor. Taken together in a ragged nutshell, it is the power of moral suasion and the veiled warnings of sanctions inside the intricate embroidery of diplomatic vocabulary, and all for Guyana. It is intriguing. All these stalwarts rising on Guyana’s behalf is inspiring. Still, there are doubts about who may or may not be there if it comes to a time for raw defending. Words lose their luster when faced with weapons. Putting myself into Maduro’s space and thinking as only he could compel himself to do, the conclusion that stirs may be close to this: after all these squeezes and all these years of pain, what is left for that whole crowd of friends of Guyana to bring… All the pressures have been weathered with admitted difficulty, but managed, nevertheless. This is what has tempted other lost leaders into throwing caution to the winds and gambling recklessly. They usually lose, but only after great damage has been done.

My concern, more of a serious problem, is once leaders make their moves and stake their claims, it becomes a long-drawn-out struggle to dislodge them. Guyana doesn’t have the arsenal nor energy nor political acumen to persevere with the painstaking efforts required to address such a situation. No doubt here that America and Canada, even China and Australia, would all slam their hands on the table and threaten all manner of countermoves against any upstart border intruder. But there would still be the forbidden reality of Venezuela on this side of the Essequibo (note spelling, please). I think that this has some considerable weight in Maduro’s endgame, which is to have a wedge to use as a bargaining chip. He has insisted all along that he wants a table and men to sit around it. Cutting to the chase, I see the equivalent of the barrel of a gun placed right into Guyana’s nostrils. The price of peace, it is called. For as long as such lasts, until the next Venezuelan madman comes along and decided his country gave up too much to get too little.

This is where and when Guyana’s long line of friends will have a chance to prove what kind they are. This country is already being divided up and shared about by foreigners with the dogged help of locals at many levels, from the highest to the rest. The parallel step, I believe, is of Venezuela’s Maduro thinking of doing his version of a stakeout and carveout, and wager that he will walk away with some piece of Guyana. It is why he pushes one-on-one talks. Compromise is what that is labeled. Put an end to the damn controversy. As for international law, and all that business about territory obtained by force, I must see that in action in Guyana’s context to believe it. Friends are wonderful. Reality is another spoonful. To beat an old, but never tired, horse, we can have all the friends on the planet and if there remains, however, the drive to see each other as enemies, and make that of ourselves, then all the external friends would matter for zilch. In fact, a stronger foe (and fiend) is made of Maduro. It should be noted that I scrupulously avoided the use of any word about unity a la Moses the scribbler.