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Guyana should not be dependent on autocratic nations

By Ray Chickrie

Guyana should not become dependent on autocratic nations like China, India, Russia or Saudi Arabia because these countries will remain silent when democracy and human rights are trampled upon in Guyana and elsewhere.

While it’s questionable that the United States may have a double standard and should not lecture other nations on democracy and human rights, yet it was the United States, Canada, the UK and the EU that saved democracy when the Peoples National Congress (PNC) from March to July 2020, violently and brazenly tried to seal the 2020 election. It was also the US government involvement in the restoration of democracy in Guyana in 1992 that was brokered by president Jimmy Carter.

Also, let’s not forget that it’s Guyanese remittances from the United States that have always buttressed the economy of Guyana. After fleeing the Forbes Burnham brutal and racist dictatorship, many Guyanese fled to Suriname, the Caribbean, United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Many earn their livelihood in these countries and remit great sums of money to families in Guyana.

Since the Cold War ended,  the United States, home to about 400,000 Guyanese, has been instrumental in pushing the People’s National Congress (PNC), the party of Guyana’s first dictatorship to hold free and fair elections. The United States, the EU, CARICOM and the OAS have emerged as guarantors of democracy in Guyana. Were it not for the United States sanctioning the rigging cabal of the PNC and its mostly PNC staff at GECOM, Guyana would have descended into another dictatorship and India, China, KSA and  Russia would not have intervened.

The rise of India’s autocratic and nationalist government has been boldly sanctioning anyone and any country that condemn their human rights atrocities, draconian laws to imprisoned opponents, stifling the press and stripping citizenship from its minority communities. Further, Narendra Modi has abandoned India’s non-aligned policy and has embraced brutal dictators in the Middle East.

Then there is China willing to engage in nefarious and sinister business deals and across the world. More atrocious is China genocide against the Uyghurs who have been placed in camps. Those who escaped are being rounded and deported due to Beijing bullying. Vladimir Putin on the other hand, is engaged in destabilizing projects around the world. The opposition leader was poisoned and now languishing in jail.

What can these countries do for the current government of Guyana?

Most of the Chinese projects in Guyana like the international airport are marred in corruption – poor and cheap construction. The airport isn’t completed as yet but it’s falling apart. As a gift, China built a convention centre in Guyana and a building to house the foreign ministry of Suriname. Both buildings decayed and China had to rehabilitate them.

So it comes as no surprise that the new government in Guyana was willing to entertain a Taiwan trade office in Guyana. That did not go too far because of China’s bullying. While Georgetown and Beijing have had a smooth relationship since then, the current government in office is aware of various corrupt deals that the former APNU/AFC regime entered with Chinese businesses and individuals.

The PPP leadership is now sending strong messages that it has learned from the past. One can expect that the PPP Cold War contention with the United States is a thing of the past. PPP chairman, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, realized that his party lost some “grassroots supporters” and it has prompted him to do “some serious self-introspection like a personal autopsy of what went wrong and how to correct it.

Amidst multiple and major oil discoveries that will transform Guyana (to date 20). Mike Pompeo became the first US Secretary of State to visit Guyana and that followed some major military cooperation between the two countries. Further, the establishment of the US Guyana chamber of commerce and the US embassy role in facilitating investments between the two countries have broadened ties between the two countries. Military cooperation between the two countries continues to expand.

Just last week, the United States sponsored a multinational military exercise, Tradewinds, aimed at strengthening American security in the region. US ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch announced.

“It’s really related to all sorts of security issues. You know, this is our neighbourhood and we want to make sure it’s secure, not only for oil and gas but for the citizens of these nations and for all kinds of trade that is happening in the regions so it’s really giving all of these nations an opportunity to improve their partnerships, improve their capacity, to work together to address the key threats in the region which include transnational criminal activities, the transportation of illegal goods and things of that nature,” she told News-Talk Radio Guyana/ Demerara Waves Online News.

For these reasons one can expect that the ABC plus EU nations will play a big role in Guyana’s oil and gas economy and there will be a shift from dependency on China and Russia to more robust military and investment deals with the United States, Canada and the EU.

France is set to become the first EU country to open an embassy in Guyana. The Irfaan Ali government will find it challenging to confront the PNC use of racism to destabilize the country as Guyana moves to prosecute some high profile members of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

Guyana can count on the United States, the EU, CARICOM and the OAS for backing. The PPP should not expect support from China, Russia, Saudi Arabia or India. The Guyanese people are very happy that the US gained an important partner in the new PPP government of Irfaan Ali, and they are wary of Chinese investments and gifts “designed largely to provide vulnerable countries an alternative to predatory Chinese economic projects.”

Guyanese are calling on their leaders to bring more US, EU and Canadian investments to Guyana and less Chinese.



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