Jul 26, 2020 News
A week after the United States government had announced sanctions in the form of visa revocation on “individuals responsible and complicit in undermining democracy in Guyana,” officials from the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) shared mixed responses when questioned by Kaieteur News on the status of their visas.
US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, on July 15th had made good on his nation’s threat of sanctions for those complicit in electoral fraud, as he also called for incumbent President David Granger to “step aside” and demit office, following his loss of the March 2, General and Regional Elections.
The sanctions, ranging from terminated visas to frozen assets, are expected to be imposed in phases, starting with the upper echelon of the party.
Kaieteur News made contact with a number of APNU+AFC officials.
The majority of them refused to answer questions regarding the status of their US visa, while the remaining provided mixed responses.
Answers were requested for these three basic questions: as of March of this year whether they were in possession of a US visa; whether between March and the date the enquires were made had they been contacted by the consular section of the US embassy with regards to the revocation of that US visa; and if they had, was the revocation of that visa been linked to sanctions announced so far by the US government?
Second Vice President and Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Sydney Allicock, was the only official who gave a comprehensive response to Kaieteur News.Allicock, who also represents the Guyana Action Party (GAP), confirmed that he is in fact in possession of a US visa.He noted, however, that he has not contacted by the US embassy.
Minister within the Ministry of Agriculture, Valerie Patterson, shared the same comments as Allicock. She stated that she too had not been contacted by the US embassy even though she is in possession of a US visa.
However, one minister chose to answer differently. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Karen Cummings, in her reply, sent an infographic illustrating irregularities her party claimed to have uncovered during the concluded national recount.
Notably, a number of these “anomalies” such as voter impersonation that was alleged to be unearthed by the party have been refuted by many—as highlighted in a series of extensive and verifiable articles published by Kaieteur News.
Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Annette Ferguson, sent a rather memorable and humorous response. Rather than providing comprehensive answers to the questions posed to her, Ferguson instead chose to reply with a series of smiley faces emojis.
Messages were also sent to Minister of Telecommunications, Cathy Hughes; Minister of Culture Youth and Sport, George Norton, and Minister of Public Service, Sarabo-Halley, who all viewed the messages that were sent to them.
No responses were given, and surprisingly, Hughes and Sarabo-Halley blocked this reporter’s number from their WhatsApp.
This was confirmed upon noticing that subsequent messages sent to them could no longer be delivered.
Contact was made with Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo; Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan; Minister of Business, Hemraj Rajkumar; Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence; Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson; Minister of Education, Nicholette Henry; Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman; Minister of Social Protection, Amna Ally; and Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan. Messages were also sent to the three government-nominated commissioners working for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Vincent Alexander; Charles Corbin and Desmond Trotman.
However, none of the 11 officials listed above provided a response to the calls or messages sent out to them.
On July 20th a message containing the same questions asked above was sent to President David Granger via his Director Public Information and Press Service Unit which operates under the Ministry of the Presidency (MotP) and is headed by Ariana Gordon. Up to press time last evening, however, no response was submitted.
Notably, US Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch, had told journalists on July 16th that those persons had not yet been notified about the sanctions on them, but that they would be told if they seek to travel.
The embassy later clarified that the affected officials would be told.
The Ambassador was tight-lipped about the identities and categories of persons affected, pointing to US privacy laws which prohibit her from releasing such information.
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