There has been a lot of press coverage of the speech that was read by the Hon. Priya Manickchand, at the residence of outgoing US Ambassador, Dr. Brent Hardt.
Ambassador Hardt’s recent comments, where he lashed out at President Donald Ramotar, accusing him of being an inconsistent defender of the Constitution, provoked the following response from Minister Manickchand: “He 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, allegations and accusations and innuendos about the Executive President of Guyana, or of any country for that matter, is, to our minds, totally unacceptable; this situation is intolerable. The ambassador has been associated with a dedicated attack on the President and on the Government…. The Ambassador has been supported in this ill-conceived venture by the Opposition section of the media and his colleagues in the diplomatic corps”.
For this, she was criticised by known critics of the ruling party and government.
I have no problem with the content of this speech, for the US has not always respected the Constitution of the Republic of Guyana. There is documented evidence of efforts by the United States and Great Britain to destabilize our country after Independence, denying our people the right to a government of their choice for many, many years, quite possibly resulting in the hardships our people have endured during that period.
It was high time that Guyana finally found the courage to tell the Ambassador that we will not tolerate outside interference in our domestic policies. Being the Ambassador of the United States does not give Brent Hardt the right to disrespect our President and our country. Had a Guyanese diplomat stationed in the US been justly accused of meddling in the domestic affairs of the United States, the Government of Guyana would have been asked to recall that diplomat. What is good for the goose is also good for the gander.
My problem, though, lies with the unpatriotic behaviour of prominent members of the opposition, who, by their silence, seemed to approve Ambassador Hardt’s public criticism of our Head of State. Where was the outcry? A politician may have serious differences with the Administration, but it is downright unpatriotic for any member of the opposition, especially those aspiring leaders, to boo Minister Manickchand during the reading of her speech, for defending Guyana’s sovereignty and her Constitution.
At this level, protocol dictates that a copy of the US Ambassador’s speech would have been sent to Foreign Affairs days before, and an appropriate response would have been drafted by that Ministry, after going through several layers of speech-writers. The drafters would have been guided by both the Ambassador’s speech, and his relationship with the Guyana Government.
As such, the speech delivered by Acting Foreign Minister Manickchand would have been a direct response from the Government of Guyana to the US Ambassador, Dr. Brent Hardt. It is possible that the final copy was further amended before it reached Minister Manickchand who was charged with the responsibility to deliver same at the Ambassador’s function.
In fairness to the Minister Manickchand, that very speech would have been delivered by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett had she been in Guyana, and should have been delivered by Prime Minister Samuel Hinds had he not been meeting with Hinterland scholars during their graduation exercise at the Amerindian Village at Sophia, a function that falls directly under the portfolio of the Minister of Education, the Hon. Priya Manickchand.
Those who know Minister Priya Manickchand would willingly testify that she does not deliver speeches from prepared text. She speaks from the heart with conviction. This was echoed by APNU Parliamentarian, Attorney James Bond who told a media entity, “I don’t think she wrote that speech by the way, that’s not her tone, that’s not Ms. Manickchand.”
It would also be nice to hear Attorney Bond’s thoughts on any foreign diplomat who frequently uses disparaging remarks about our country, while enjoying the hospitality of our Native Land!
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