As we look for the umpteenth time at Guyana and what is happening with its oil prospects, there is so much that disappoints. It heaps hopelessness in a time when the brightest excitements should dominate the minds of citizens. There are a few things that should open the eyes of Guyanese on the forces at work and the dirty games that they play, destructive games.
The first thing that foreign companies do in Third World countries is to buy out the local leaders, by richly lining their pockets. This is now the given and the standard. Neither government nor opposition of the time is left out. It is a vision and drive to get all hands on deck and remove any human hurdles.
This is why we believe that most strangely and inexplicably, Guyanese leaders are neither willing to nor budging towards any (any) renegotiating of the existing lopsided, Exxon-heavy contract, Guyana-lite contract. This is most peculiar and makes no sense and brings severe agitation and alarm. What is going on with our oil? What is really in motion and at work with this precious wealth of ours that could be gone before we know it, with nothing to show for it? Our oil is produced in a world that is no longer demand driven (so said oil giant BP) which means that Guyana’s oil will have to compete for a toehold in fierce world markets, which is not a good place for this weak and tiny country to be. The specter of sugar looms, and look at what happened with that one-time mainstay.
The sense is that Guyanese leaders are in a jam. It one of their own making, because they did not deal honestly with the people’s interests and welfare. It is believed that they engaged in some form of wheeling and dealing to help themselves. This is what is hurting Guyana currently, since it stays leaders’ hand from renegotiating powerfully and genuinely. To bolster this conviction, an example and an illustration are provided to shed some light on how these matters work.
When foreign companies wished to do side business with local leaders long ago, they simply deposited monies in foreign bank accounts in the leaders’ names. Sharp scrutiny has forced discontinuation of such practices. Nowadays, there is a sleeker, more sophisticated way with even better results. A subsidiary company is established, with local leaders and foreign companies as principals and working in cahoots, one is a silent, sleeping partner. Think of it as a political and personal special purpose vehicle. Business is funneled into that company as revenues, and a means of covering the tracks of money flowing through the business, a nifty sharing arrangement. It is all legitimate looking, except that this business serves as the umbrella for local leaders to rip the wealth away for themselves.
In Guyana, the rich Kaieteur and Canje oil blocks raise such concerns. That is, politicians used a pass through business as shelter for potential siphoning off and wrongdoing with our oil in partnership with foreigners. It is a case of mutual backscratching, with citizens getting the dirty end of the stick.
This illustration should help. There is a union that wishes to represent workers. Management of the business looks for ways to cheat the workers from representation. So, it works out a scheme with the union, where a subsidiary is setup and it (the union) has a stake, and rewards for both management and union come. Management directs business through this subsidiary, with income and profits guaranteed. Both parties in this business setup prosper, while the workers get shafted. In this make-believe instance, the workers are the people of Guyana; management is represented by political people, and the union is foreign, with the latter two making big money.
The foreigners also execute two more strategies. They woo, wean, and wine, local elites (swimming pools, golf courses, cocktail hours) to pander to ago and vanity and sense of belonging. Thus, a possibly viable civic force is neutralized, with no boat rocking. Last, chaos and confusion are fostered among the masses, who maul each other and dig out the other’s eyes.
While the locals fight, the foreigners fetch away the riches.
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