There is scant attention on developments in Venezuela; or the associated suspicions and accusations. Most assuredly, there is close scrutiny in official quarters where such responsibilities weigh heavily. But look at the wider world of regular Guyana, and it is the unbelievable story of reckless distraction, mistaken priorities, and wasted energies.
Word about planes, troops, and missile systems are treated nonchalantly by citizens whose minds are furiously concentrated elsewhere. The life and death issue of a date; of elections; of who will win and take along for the ride. They think that local petroleum production grounds are playgrounds for prosperity. It is a wonderful dream; could quickly transform into a mirage. For daily those potential production grounds assume the sinister contours of proving grounds. For big power presences and standoff. Matters are becoming more finely calibrated with each passing day, each new development. There is willingness at confrontation, on the one hand; and high-octane boisterousness towards rejection, on the other.
Though all of this Guyanese sleep. Not a problem. Not Guyana’s business. It is. It is in all of its many dangerous ingredients. It is a volatile, combustible cocktail being slowly shaken right on the peripheries of this nation’s backyard. At this crucial moment in Guyana’s history and future, when all citizens should have eyes and ears, they are adamant that they prefer not to, see no reason for having to do so. Guyanese have neither eyes nor ears nor fixity of minds for anything but elections; and all the scarred and diseased tissues that are part and parcel of that national exercise in compulsive madness. Venezuela’s problems are its own; Guyana has enough of its own, and does not need anymore. Conveniently ignored and shunted off to the sidelines is that swelling refugee influx.
If this is the local mindset, through inexplicable unwillingness at discerning a slowly, but relentlessly, building up of superpower assets and tensions, then this country is not worthy of either owning or harvesting of its oil patrimony. It is the height of irresponsibility and negligence. Guyanese may wake up and find themselves in the pathetic position of having to kiss the oil boat goodbye. Or at least having to agonize over and wait for the promised financial honeymoon to materialize.
It is because the social upheavals inside Venezuela are not purely internal and native in character. It is because the gathering alignments and strategic chess moves are mainly external in contemplation and execution. And it is because the two when juxtaposed together (or arrayed against each other) are about oil production hegemonies, oil market influence, hemispheric supremacy, and economic power. Economic power means military power. The two operating in tandem are able to assert and deliver a particular brand of ideology, a certain way of life, and a powerful presence in the near and far-flung spaces of the globe. Guyana is a pawn; a useful one, a close enough one.
This is about OPEC and beyond; much more. It is about the sustainability of the counterforce of shale and its ability to compete profitably. And it is about who will rebuff and retain-or encroach and establish-the upper hand in the always unsettled, but always vital Middle East.
For the interested and wise, what is happening next door is more than about a beleaguered leader and a surging opposition. There are those hands and forces behind the adversarial parties, the competing ideologies, and the savaging social discontents. In the intricate intestines, and the now not-so-delicate diplomacy, of this sharpening showdown, this is of drawing lines, taking stands, and readying to break regional strangleholds and setting precedent and tone for further engagements. There is way more involved than who takes charge in Venezuela. However circumstances unfold over there, they are going to impact Guyana positively or differently in times ahead. Guyana elections and oil are mere dots on the radar. And yet this nation remains stonily preoccupied.
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