In 2002, the European Union instituted a travel ban on officials of the Zimbabwean government amidst a crackdown on opponents by the Mugabe administration. That ban was lifted this year but remained on President Mugabe and his wife.
In July of this year, the United States Embassy instituted visa bans on officials of the Maduro government in Venezuela. This followed concerns over human rights violation during stormy political protests in that country.
More importantly, in March of this year, the US imposed similar sanctions for Russian and Ukrainians accused of impeding the democratic process in Crimea.
Thus, it is not just a case of persons having to commit human rights violations in order to attract a visa ban. There is a precedent in US foreign policy to institute visa bans for persons who are accused to impeding the democratic process within a country. And there also is a precedent of visa bans being used where opponents of a government are being hounded.
It is against this background that I invite the United States Embassy, the Canadian High Commission and the British High Commission to seriously examine the unfolding situation in Guyana and to determine whether they should not begin preparing to institute visa bans in Guyana.
The United States of course had at one time instituted a visa ban on all government officials and their families, in Guyana. This was after the government had, in the estimation of the US government, prevaricated on the paper work necessary for the US to deport Guyanese.
The US took a decision to not offer any new visas to government officials or their families. They did not cancel or revoke existing visas. This policy worked. The government quickly ensured the necessary paper work was dispatched to facilitate the extradition of Guyanese convicted of criminal offences in the United States.
I believe the time has come for the ABC countries to seriously consider the deteriorating situation in Guyana.
It is time for them to begin to plan for the possibility of imposing visa restrictions on select members of the ruling elite and their cronies. The ABC countries should not wait until the situation in Guyana deteriorates further.
The signs are there of tyranny in Guyana. The ABC countries should signal their concerns before Guyana reaches the point of no return. When a regime becomes desperate, it knows no limits and will eventually resort to brute force. This has happened before in Guyana.
When a regime has to go after the media in a country simply because the media is exposing its wrongdoings, it shows that the government cannot legitimately explain and defend its actions and therefore is forced to resort to silencing the media. We know from history of the excesses that will follow.
When vendettas are launched against the media by persons holding public office, we have long passed the warning point. We are now in the danger zone. Tyranny is afoot.
When persons can be framed, when trumped up charges are laid against them, then we are dealing with desperate people who will do anything, including abusing their offices further to avoid being exposed.
When the rule of law is perverted by those in authority and used to target those who criticize the government, democracy itself is threatened because democracy rests of a foundation of the rule of law.
When Local Government Elections cannot be held when constitutionally due and when no credible explanation can be offered for the non-holding of these elections, then we are dealing with a desperate government which does not wish to yield political power. Democracy is under siege.
The government in Guyana is operating from a house of cards. And those cards are slowly but surely crumbling. When it does crumble, there will be many persons within the government who will be running to the United States in order to escape justice.
They will not be running from the No-Confidence Motion. They will be running from justice.
They will not be running empty-handed. They will not be running alone. They will run with their ill-gotten gains and they will be accompanied by their families.
Suitcases are already being packed. Contingency plans are being made should the tyrants lose power. They will empty the treasury and run with it, not to Cuba or Russia, but to America, Canada and England.
The United States has a policy that opposes the proceeds of ill-gotten gains, including from government corruption finding its way into their economy. So too do the Canadians and so too the British.
Guyana will once again have to start all over and this will be an added burden on the ABC countries which have already invested so much in this country.
If Guyana has to start all over again, we will be unable to be supportive of the broader hemispheric goals of the ABC countries, including addressing national security threats such as drug trafficking and terrorism. Acting now before the situation gets irredeemable therefore makes sense.
The ABC countries need to act now. They need to at least begin to consider a visa ban on those individuals who because of their abuse of power are likely to flee should the house of cards implode in Guyana.
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