I didn’t know the wife of Dr. Emmanuel Cummings when we taught at UG. I got along well with Emmanuel, even though we were from different faculties. I got to know his wife, medical doctor, Karen Cummings when we campaigned together at the 2015 general elections.
Of all my experience in politics, one incident I will always remember and one that will never leave my mind involves Dr. Cummings. The AFC’s Region 3 branch fixed a public meeting at Tuschen, East Bank Essequibo for 7 p.m. The featured speakers were Dr. Cummings and I.
As I kept driving and driving, it was clear to me that I was going where civilization did not exist and the night was getting older. I was enraged. Who could be so crazy to hold an election campaign meeting “behind God’s back.” We eventually got to the spot. It was a deserted plot where the nearest house was about half a mile away. I spoke, so did Dr. Cummings.
I gave the AFC’s organizer a show of anger. Both of us could have been victims of an ambush. You don’t hold a meeting in a place so desolate. The AFC guy told me he wanted us to speak on that spot because a woman was raped right there, so we were showing symbolic solidarity.
It was through that encounter I got to know Karen. I called in 2016 to ask her to intervene for an emergency patient to be attended to. The patient was the sister of a good friend at Kaieteur News. Dr. Cummings was in the United States at the time, but she was kind enough to intervene. This is the Karen Cummings I know.
Thus I couldn’t believe her public utterances about Guyana’s sovereignty in relation to the CCJ ruling.
In an obscure way, Karen Cummings has made political history in Guyana. I can never recall a foreign minister being in a politically charged demonstration. Foreign Ministers tend to stay away from those public political things. I may be wrong, but from the time of Sir Shridath Ramphal in 1966 right up to Carl Greenidge in 2019, I don’t think a serving Foreign Minister ever took to the picket line. Cummings was seen among the APNU+AFC protestors last week in front of GECOM offices calling for house-to-house registration.
What does she mean by Guyana “has to take care of its sovereignty?” The CCJ is part of the legal territory of Guyana. What about that she and her fellow minister, Hastings-Williams do not understand? Hastings-Williams demonstrated colossal ignorance when in denouncing the role of the CCJ exclaimed; “Guyana is an independent country with its own independent laws.”
How can the Foreign Minister, of all people in a country, not understand the role of the CCJ in Guyana? One is tempted to ask Dr. Cummings if she knows anything about how CARICOM works. Maybe she needs a little bit of education to understand Guyana’s sovereignty in relation to CARICOM. Two areas need to be defined for her.
One is the CSME. Guyana has no legal authority to import tamarind juice from outside of CARICOM territories. It must buy as a priority from a CARICOM nation that sells tamarind juice. It has to ask the CARICOM Secretariat permission to bypass its sister CARICOM country. We come to number two. If it doesn’t ask the Secretariat, the aggrieved nation can file a writ against it with the CCJ. Once the CCJ rules, then Guyana has to import the product from within CARICOM.
In wildly asserting Guyana’s sovereignty in reaction to the CCJ’s ruling, Cummings and Hastings-Williams may have jeopardized Guyana’s security. International society subscribes to the World Court. We have a border problem with Venezuela. We have asked the World Court to adjudicate. If Guyana wins in the World Court, the border controversy is over. Venezuela can rant and rave how much it wants, but global society will recognize Guyana’s position because global society accepts the rulings of the World Court.
What if Venezuela now mischievously cites what Cummings and Hastings-Williams have said about sovereignty. Of course the world will not bother with Venezuela once the World Court rules in our favour, but misplaced remarks like those of a Foreign Minister could play into the hands of our external enemies.
We have a sick political culture in Guyana that is more than seventy years old. PPP leaders from 1992 have refused to apologize for repugnant things done in their 23-year rule. The leaders in APNU and AFC will not even attempt a vague apology for any similar conduct. These two ministers will never apologize.
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