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Jul 26, 2010 Features / Columnists, Peeping Tom
This week we examine the implications of the President’s visit to Caracas, and the tea cup sized storm it is generating by those who wish to distract from closer relations between Guyana and her western neighbour.
There was not the usual pre-announcement of the visit which would have allowed those with a paranoia about Guyana’s relations with Venezuela to heap suspicion over the visit. The announcement came as a surprise but it did attenuate the hyperbole that usually accompanies news of such visits.
While the news of the visit may have come as a surprise, it is clear however that work was taking place behind the scenes in the run-up to the meeting between Presidents Chavez and Jagdeo. A great deal of quiet diplomacy preceded this visit and bore fruit as evident by the number of agreements that were inked between the two countries.
These agreements will silence those who feel that Guyana has to fear political adventurism from the east and the west. Guyana should have no such fears and not from Venezuela, who under Hugo Chavez has shown a willingness to support the development of Guyana’s economy, a position that was previously enunciated by his government. Hugo Chavez is a true socialist and is not going to stand in the way of any country which aims for the betterment of its people and which is not a puppet of US imperialism. His government will not allow encumbrances to healthy ties with Guyana.
At the same time, it would be asking Chavez to renounce his country’s claim to a large section of Guyana as a precondition for closer relations. Guyana is no position to make such demands and needs to appreciate also the dilemma that Chavez will find himself in politically should he do that.
Guyana should develop ties based on the principles of good neighborliness. There are however forces which see any close ties between Chavez and Guyana as supporting his regime which has made inroads into the powerful economic oligarchy in his country who are supported by the West. As such, these forces will fan the flames of discontent and encourage the view that Guyana is courting danger by entering, even as an observer, ALBA.
In this regard, it is not unusual to find at this time, theories about an Iranian connection in Guyana and about that country having spies in Guyana. In the coming weeks we are going to be bombarded about how unwise it is to enter ALBA.
Guyana should never have vacillated about entering ALBA, and the unsure step of committing to observer status shows the lack of political experience and diplomatic surefootedness on the part of the Jagdeo administration.
President Jagdeo himself made a very unimpressive presentation in the talks between the two delegations, unwisely labouring the point about the border controversy overshadowing relations between the two countries.
This may have been so in the context of the Cold War. But the thawing (not the end of that conflict) and moreover the election of Hugo Chavez has removed that impediment.
President Jagdeo would have been better advised to avoid during his visit and especially in official talks, any mention of the dispute because the Venezuelans have gone beyond that and are prepared to support the development of Guyana.
The border issue has traditionally been used as a Cold War weapon. It was resurrected during the sixties as means of keeping Jagan in check and it was used against Burnham to derail critical support since it was feared that it would bring Burnham and the PPP closer.
However, both countries, in the context of ALBA need to move ahead with the integration of their economies while respecting the differences at the political level.
Obviously the Americans are going to be upset and already we are seeing reactions that seek to create distrust between the two countries.
The agreements signed between Guyana and the Venezuela are therefore important in promoting this integration. The agreements provide for the expanded purchase of Guyana’s rice from Venezuela and the reciprocal sale of fertilizers to Guyana. In addition, there is the possibility of the sale of aviation fuel which could help reduce transportation costs providing that the fuel is made available to both local and international carriers.
More importantly, the Venezuelans have committed to releasing funding for the dredging of major rivers in Guyana and this will ease the fears over future flooding. These are all concrete proposals which should help Guyana and which show that it is possible for relations to be developed outside the context of the border issue.
Selling other countries products is progress and development for Pres.Ali & others.
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