OPINION: Guyana’s oil paying for those American warplanes overhead

Last Updated on Friday, 10 May 2024, 14:55 by Writer

by GHK Lall

It was rolling thunder overhead just after noon on Thursday May 9. Schoolchildren caught unawares screamed in fright. I am sure a building or two shook. Some public buildings nearby went into a wintry hush. Dead silence reigned. Guyanese were left in a state of awe. American warplanes overhead in an earsplitting, teeth rattling, mind blasting volley of sound. It was not the movies. It is real life. God! It is good to be an American. As a show of force for, a demonstration of closeness to, Guyanese, that American flyover cannot be beaten. Not by the Commies. Not by the Chinese. Who else? Not by anybody from anywhere. Mr. Maduro, are you listening, amigo? The next time around, Madame Ambassador, could arrangements be made for that flexing of intent, of Guy-American solidarity, involving those warplanes to fly over Caracas? Please, as a favor to me.

Approximately eight years ago, I said there was a lot to find fault with in that 2016 Exxon oil contract. I didn’t like it, but I understand it. The dogs came out in strength: PNC maan! How times change on a dime. Today, I have been called anti-Exxon and even anti-American. Imagine that, and for what? A little more moolah if you will. A tad more support from official Washington for Guyana’s commercial cause. The local dogs of war would have none of it, and on the rampage they went. A pack of snarling, bloodthirsty pit bulls in full moblike frenzy. State media. Social media. Underground media. Even criminal media. Ooh, la, la! I am standing my ground, and as that old-time calypsonian warbled aggressively: ‘nobaady gun run me.’ I was right then, and right again now. Get ready, it is contract conversation time.

In Guyana’s now ancient oil history, I wrote in Stabroek News that the measly 2% royalty is insurance. The other percentages foregone because of the protection money that had to be paid to Exxon. It was a mafia shakedown by an American corporate power in its best godfather imitation. An offer that cannot be refused, a price that is worth its weight in blood. What Guyana was leaving on the table (or off it [maybe even under it]) was, at the heart of it, blood money. Pay up, so that others can put out. Guyana paid up and is still paying through the nose. Exxon is collecting and poised to drink and drain the blood of Guyana for an extended time in the future. Those Yankee warplanes that roared past overhead are proof of payment. Payment from Guyana’s oil money to America’s Exxon’s people. The biggest rackets are not run by men in Fedoras and guttural Italian accents à la Mario Puzo. The rackets are run out of places like Wall Street, Washington, DC, and Spring, Texas. If Maduro wants a fight, he can have it. Just so that everyone is singing God bless America from the same songbook, and with the same thrilling understanding, those screaming eagles that rent the skies of Guyana just past High Noon on Thursday were not for the benefit of Guyanese. No friends, Guyanese, and countrymen (local women properly recognized)! It may not have been the 101st Airborne, but those Hornets were to get a message live and direct to Maduro. Don’t mess with Exxon, buddy. Messing with Exxon is messing with America. The beauty about this one is that Guyana’s oil money is paying for it.

It goes without saying that the stink and dutty Guyana politics has to be dragged into that flyby, that kickass moment now etched indelibly in Guyanese memory and legend. When the PNC signed the Exxon contract, the PPP hollered sellout, with lead vocalists Bharrat Jagdeo and Mohamed Irfaan Ali galloping in front. Who is selling out today? Who is rolling over and being declared deader than a doormat? I tender the same Bharrat Jagdeo and Mohamed Irfaan Ali, both doctors now. Pathologists, they have become. Watch out Nehaul. Somebody operated on them, and what Guyanese are left with is the Day of the Living Dead. Walking Dead. Falling on face and falling apart dead. I take no issue with any of this, as it is simply politics and nothing personal. Where I get bent out of shape is when these two geniuses and the cadre of once and still genius cadavers following them now plaster over matters with sanctity of contract and that asinine construction called better contract management. Get a better contract, fellow Guyanese, and it will manage itself. There would be no need for one of those all-purpose books titled, Oil Management for Dummies.

The first chapter is blunt as a sledgehammer to the head: to renegotiate is not to get the reassurance of one damn warplane disturbing the clouds overhead and the situation on the mud-spattered ground. Even the iguanas and mongooses were scurrying for cover. No! It was not the apocalypse, only America up to its usual tricks. When I say things like these in public, a few bright fellows in the PPP who have used up all their brain cells shout anti-Exxon and anti-America. It is called free speech, folks. America has thick skin. Just ask Excellency Nicole D. Theriot and Vice Admiral Alistair Routledge. Vice Admiral and Vice President, God help Guyana. To America the brave and beautiful, a big thanks for those warplanes. Just get ready for the next sortie and fusillade from this side for subtracting such a steep premium from our oil. It is blood money to me.