Jul 03, 2015 News
By Abena Rockcliffe
Diplomacy was used to full effect last night at the Marriott Hotel, Georgetown, as the United States recalled some unfortunate events that occurred under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) regime. In the same breath, the superpower lauded early efforts of the new government and said that its policies speak well for the future of Guyana.
The occasion was the annual event held in commemoration of the United States gaining its Independence on July 4, 1776 – its 239th anniversary.
Delivering remarks on behalf of the US was the Chief of Mission, Bryan Hunt.
Hunt spoke of many things during his address which was punctuated by bouts of humour. But a constant feature was hints of the wrongs committed by the previous administration.
Quite popular was the references Hunt made to the ‘feral blast’ delivered by former Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand, at last year’s celebrations.
The Diplomat said “2015 has already been a transformative year in the relationship between our two countries. Right now about a year ago the former Guyanese Education Minister was delivering her infamous “feral blast” to former Ambassador (Brent) Hardt based on his supposedly radical demands for Local Government Elections.”
With that remembrance, Hunt pointed out a silver lining as he said, “Tonight, I can confidently pledge American support to President (David) Granger and Prime Minister (Moses) Nagamootoo as their government prepares to hold Local Government Elections by the end of 2015.”
He went on to say that last year, the US was seriously concerned about the economic and law enforcement implications of the then government’s failure to pass new anti-money laundering legislation.
“Tonight, I can offer my government’s sincere congratulations to Acting President Nagamootoo on the parliament’s recent passage of fully compliant legislation and offer our support in its implementation.”
Later on in his speech, Hunt said that as he reflected on the past year, he was “grateful” for the many “learning opportunities” that working on the relationship between Guyana and America has afforded.
“I now better understand the definition of a feral blast, the intricacies of prorogation (former President Donald Ramotar prorogued the Parliament on November 10, 2014 to avoid a no-confidence Motion) and the critical importance of international election observation — thanks to some of my friends in Guyanese politics for the rapid and unexpected education.”
Throwing further jabs, Hunt said “I hope that your next lesson will be on how to form a vibrant parliamentary opposition.” While some in the room found this funny, it was no laughing matter for members of the PPP/C who had graced the occasion.
On the bright side, the envoy said that he also learned about the warmth, hospitality, goodwill, creativity, dynamism, and tremendous strength of the Guyanese people. Hunt added that he remains confident that such characteristics will continue to move Guyana along the path towards prosperity.
The Chief of Mission told those who gathered that “July 4th in the United States represents a very special day in our history. It is a day we celebrate our independence from Great Britain, but it is also a day we celebrate what makes our country great. We, much like Guyana, are a country of immigrants.”
He added that the US, like Guyana, has embraced diversity and both countries view it as strength as opposed to a weakness.
“Both of our countries are home to people of different religions, and ethnic backgrounds. We both are proud of how our citizens work together to achieve common goals. In the United States we celebrate “One Nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all,” and in Guyana you speak of “One People, One Nation, One Destiny.” We both know the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and that is why we work hand-in-hand and walk step-by-step to move forward,” said Hunt.
That does not mean, he said, that “we will always get it right. Recently, both of our countries have faced challenges to national unity.” He said that for his country it came in the tragic events that led to racial discord in Ferguson, Baltimore, and New York. For Guyana, it came in the form of ethnically divisive rhetoric on the campaign trail — the wounds from which are still fresh to many in this country.
“To our nations’ credit, however, we have emerged stronger from these experiences in no small part due to the vision of our respective senior leaders,” said Hunt.
The Chief of Mission said that US President Barack Obama spoke of the need to strive to heal racial division and embark on a new dialogue on race relations. And Guyana’s President and Prime Minister have eloquently called for national unity and stressed the need for social and ethnic inclusion, while simultaneously demonstrating through their multi-ethnic coalition government that political cooperation in the national interest is possible.
“I, and my team at the American Embassy, look forward to continuing to partner with you during this journey. May God continue to bless Guyana, and the United States of America!”
Prime Minister Nagamootoo who spoke on behalf of the Guyana Government in the absence of President Granger assured the United States that, “there will be no more feral blasts.” This announcement was met with loud laughter and applause from the gathering, although again, the expressions of PPP/C officials present were far from amused.
Nagamootoo said that elections are happily behind Guyana and the new government has embarked on a nationwide cleanup campaign which is one that seeks to get rid of bad governance and lack of accountability. He acknowledged the good work and contributions of the US pointing to the many programmes that have been designed to help Guyana in numerous ways.
The Prime Minister also said that Ambassador’s Hardt’s advocacy for Local Government Elections bore fruit as he noted the tabling of the amendment Bill that is designed to pave the way for these elections.
Nagamootoo said that Guyana continues to look forward to partnership with the US.
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