OPINION: Ambassador Theriot on ‘No information sharing’, here comes the implications

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 June 2024, 21:44 by Writer

by GHK Lall

They have to keep these investigations very close-hold because they can be compromised by anyone and so we tend to not share a lot of information until the investigation reaches a certain stage and so I regret that people feel they’ve been left in the dark but in the United States it would be exactly the same way.” Thanks for clearing the air Ambassador Nicole D. Theriot (“US Ambassador defends no information sharing on Mohameds, PS Thomas with Guyana before sanctions” –Demerara Waves, June 14, 2024). 

Excellency Theriot went further, it was “a whole US Government investigation” and then still further: “I strongly recommend to the US Treasury Department…that they provide as much of that information as possible” to help the Guyana Government. I give more thanks to Ambassador Theriot. The US Government does not give its plenipotentiaries all those insights, all that training, for such to go to waste. The US ambassador is proving to be a good soldier, an agile thinker on her feet.

Missionaries have their scripts, and they stick to it. Ambassadors are no different, and they know their roles, have their messages. The cables must have been humming for a long time, 30 months and many more before that. Matters just intensified of late, when movements threatened to get out of control. What I heard from Ambassador Theriot was accurate, and it also had its high points (the usual diplomatic pirouettes), and its unsaid (which left so much unanswered). I address them one after the other, and only slightly.

Yes, certain probes, the information gathering process, can start out tense and touchy. Then they get more intense. The more intense the probes get, the more some people must drop out. A few more people are also added, those up the bureaucratic food chain, on a need-to-know basis. It is for briefing purposes, so that seniors are kept in the loop and not blindsided by media developments. At the heart of this, it is simply a precautionary measure based on confidentiality, and the need for the greatest trust. Guyanese know about confidentiality and how much has been hidden from them under that veil. They also are very familiar – way too familiar – with how much trust is in scarce supply in this country. Here is a sample question: how many Guyanese trust this PPP Government? And another, or any other government? If the trust of Guyanese is at such a low watermark with their own government and own leaders, then what is to be expected of the Americans?

Yes, it is now my unpleasant and turbulent duty to take on Ambassador Theriot with that diplomatic dance of hers. The one about “We have a wonderful relationship with the Government of Guyana and we want them to be able to take that information and do with it what they need to do.” My cup overfloweth with gratitude. Something had to be said for public consumption and the record, and that is as good as any. But even that is full of sharp teeth, a nuanced balancing act. Without a doubt, it is a wonderful relationship, given the free rein, the total control, that the PPP Government has handed to that American imperial power that commands Guyana’s high seas in the manner of Admirals Ernest J. King and Chester Nimitz. But here are those teeth that I just tabled. First, “we want them to take that information and do what they need to do.” So, will they, or won’t they? Cambio license has been yanked. More are likely to follow. Second, there is really no choice, no way out of the trap (and it is one) that the US Treasury (OFAC) took its time to set, and which is now sprung. What the PPP Government “need to do” is what the US Government is watching. Third, in previous PPP Governments, with one of the same strongmen at the helm, the US Government law-enforcement agencies got stung, when information that was shared was passed onto those under the radar. They promptly disappeared, usually never to surface again.

From my assessment of the situation (past and present) the US Government doesn’t trust Guyana’s leaders. It certainly does not have much confidence in the Guyana Police Force, and other anticorruption arms in this country. This much has been imparted to me. Guyanese are free to speculate from where and from whom. The issue at hand, and it has been a bone of contention for the Yanks, is about prosecutions. That is, the glaring lack of prosecutions. Guyanese should not have any difficulty to recall the lengths (and countries) to which US Government agencies had to go to nab their target. Reason asks this question: why did those interdictions have to follow the courses that they did? I am right back at trust and this hullabaloo about no information sharing on the businesspeople and the PS.

As matters stand, the Government of Guyana is now armed with a treasure trove of information. The rest is in its hands. And a final cautionary note is advanced to the president and vice president: don’t get cute. There are others in this grim mix. Recall what was said about corruption network. A network is not two men and a woman. It could be a whole government, even a country.