ExxonMobil belongs right here. Paper – what paper? Costs? Evidence? When there is finding, there can be talking. Problem: there can’t be finding of something that doesn’t exist. It is called the Fawn Hall school of filing and retaining of records. Remember her from the televised Oliver North (Iran Contra) Congressional show? Her storage cabinet was the trusty, failsafe contingency plan of the shredder. That was the end of that in bits and pieces. Try putting that one back together again.
As these things go, there is nothing more foolproof than that. It is sound and proven and results-oriented. Nothing to declare. Nothing to hang on anybody before the courts of justice or public opinion.
ExxonMobil came to Guyana and refined its own education. We will say that again for emphasis. Though no slouch at the deception game, ExxonMobil dealt with Guyanese, kept what it wished, and smoke was the rest.
Look at the year closely. It was 2015. Something happened here with paper, people, and their memories. Nothing available, nobody home. The president himself said so. And there it is now in the Big Apple, with the slick ExxonMobil coming forward to put hand on heart, the other one on some good book, and tell the tale.
No paper. No trail. No story. No dots to connect. No evidence. Therefore, no responsibility and no liability. Even by the standards of sole proprietors, under-the-table operators, and shadow businesses, to get rid of sensitive documents of less than five years vintage takes some doing, automatic or no automatic sweep.
It is the sharpness of the shrewdly reckless. Calculated, it is. ExxonMobil did not rise to be number one by being hesitant or pious or observant. Observant of rules. Observant of host interests. Observant of basic fairness. After all, there is no line in cash flow statements and income statements for something called fairness. Good sense as in return on investment and profits, yes. But fairness does not count.
So paper is made to disappear. It is the age-old story. Even sacred scripture is roiled with turmoil over what has been left out (deliberately), what has been tampered with (secretly), and what has been presented (righteously).
Now if the rest of the world, including that judicial one up north, is compelled to give credence to the sleazy manipulations (Machiavellian, isn’t it?) of the mighty ExxonMobil, then it is welcomed to do so. But this paper, and the people of this poor country, know better, sense differently. Guyanese can be so, because they have seen before all of what ExxonMobil trots out under various legal camouflages.
Thanks to crafty political people and sleazy public service people (dirty private sector people, too), Guyanese are overeducated in the tricks of one trade after another. They can teach ExxonMobil a thing or two, given the decades of experience lived with here. Disappearing documents is as old as the first profession. Titillating, it has been. Rewarding, too. And now, ExxonMobil looks poised to collect its own $460 million plus reward that it has awarded itself at the expense of Guyana.
The court proceedings will make it official, with a judicial stamp.
Though it is recognized business culture, this paper takes it personally. And so, too, should the people of Guyana. Four hundred and sixty million US is not small change. Simply multiply by 200 (or 230/240) and we are left openmouthed, with the stories that jump out, as to what is no longer possible. Billions of them in Guyana dollars.
In defence of ExxonMobil, its thinking must be this: if Guyanese can do this to one another (and more), there is nothing preventing us from taking a page out of their local book. When in Guyana, do like Guyanese. What a mess we have made of ourselves.
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