Priya Manickchand booed at America’s 4th July reception
…attempts to humiliate US Ambassador
In what can only be the most shocking abuse of hospitality and a disregard for the diplomatic norms, Guyana’s Acting
Foreign Minister, Priya Manickchand, last evening launched into an attack on United States Ambassador, Dr. D. Brent Hardt. And for her efforts she was soundly booed by the invitees.
The occasion was the observance of America’s 238th anniversary of its independence. Just two days earlier, Ambassador Hardt, addressing a youth forum called Blue Caps, was critical of the Guyana Government for its failure to hold Local Government elections.
This so rankled the ruling People’s Progressive Party that yesterday, it issued a statement that chided Ambassador Hardt for meddling in the internal affairs of a sovereign government. Minister Manickchand extended this criticism when she shared the podium at the American Independence Anniversary, last night.
Early in her speech she lauded Ambassador Hardt for his comments about Guyana. “For a very long time, we were a country that lacked free and fair elections. Thanks to your good record keeping and declassification of documents, we have confirmed that those elections were presented by external forces effectively retarding the democratic process.”
She then launched into an attack on the comments of the Ambassador but not before she had noted the absence of democracy in some agencies. She said that there is a situation today where Guyana must comply with certain international acts.
“Our banks will soon have to comply” with a measure that will see local commercial banks providing information to the United States Government on American citizens banking in Guyana.
“We have to comply with what Big Brother wants.” By the same measure, Guyana cannot expect the United States to accept or to comply with actions demanded against it. Antigua and Barbuda secured a ruling by the World Trade Organisation against the United States which is still to comply with that decision.
Below is an excerpt of her address at the independence anniversary celebration.
“The occasion is mine tonight to reflect specifically on the activities of the representative of the US Government here, Ambassador Brent Hardt. Less than three years ago, Ambassador Hardt was made welcome to Guyana.
During those years of his posting in Guyana, Ambassador Hardt has contributed to a tension-filled relationship with the Government of Guyana. These areas of tense relationships have attracted considerable efforts on our part to address oftentimes without much success.
Ambassador Hardt’s most recent assault on the President and Government of Guyana in his remarks to the recently created NGO, the Blue Caps, has in our judgment, gone beyond the boundaries of professionalism and diplomacy.
For a professional Foreign Service Office, with the appointment of an Ambassador, to make such declarations, accusations, allegations and innuendos about the Executive President of Guyana, or of any country for that matter, is to our mind, totally unacceptable.
As one reads his diatribe against our President, our outrage mounts at the liberties he has taken with diplomatic conventions, commitment to accuracy and sense of occasion. This situation, I report, is intolerable. The Ambassador has been associated with a dedicated attack on the President and the government on the holding of Local Government elections.
The Ambassador has been supported in his…this ill-conceived venture, by the opposition section of the media and his colleagues in the diplomatic corps. We have not lost any efforts in correcting their hopelessly jaundiced views of the situation.
His superficial grasp is revealed by his misinformation about the Bill. Worse yet, is his reluctance to have views of the hosting of Local Government elections corroborated by other knowledgeable stakeholders, other than the Chairman of GECOM. The Ambassador’s behaviour is totally unacceptable.
It is this government’s pledge that it will not accept such. The superpower status of the United States is acknowledged. Ambassador Brent (sic) has probably presented Guyana’s…America’s credentials as a model nation for the rest of the world. His reported declarations to the Blue Cap (sic) NGO, made in his presentation, unreservedly laud America and its democratic norms and practices. All of us here know better.
Among us here, the memory of 1950 to 1960 US interference in Guyana persists. All of us here…are daily reminded of the consequences of America’s zeal to democratize the world…And the consequences and the people of Guyana live those consequences until today. Those consequences question the Ambassador’s moral correctness in lecturing Guyana and for that matter the rest of the world.
For the Guyana Government, his nuanced resort to justifying insurrection in his remarks to the NGO Blue Caps, and here tonight, is profoundly disturbing. A collection of young minds being invited to such a mind-set for future engagement with an elected government warrants our immediate repudiation.
Like his President, Barack Obama, there exists a red line. This Ambassador has crossed that line. Unlike his President, we are resolved, we have resolved and we so advise our partners, with whom we share conventions and symbiotic relations, this is our red line. Behaviour such as this would not be tolerated within the boundaries of mutual respect, diplomatic relations and inter-government collaboration.
In closing, we extend warmest greetings and congratulations to President Obama and the people of America on this historic occasion. I thank you.
Please allow me to propose a toast to the President of America and the people of the United States of America. Happy Independence.”
Soon after, in an unprecedented move, the Ambassador returned to the podium to proclaim. “Oh, What a send off!” He then challenged the government to provide evidence that he has not acted in the best interest of the country and its people.
He leaves Guyana in August. And Minister Manickchand, in the company of Presidential Advisor Gail Teixeira, staged a walk-out from the reception.