Sep 19, 2020 Letters
It is enlightening how Guyanese from top to bottom hear what they want to hear, and from that narrowed beginning launch into narratives that support the insupportable. The context is what I shared on a recent radio programme (and, most likely, my writings in SN and KN) on Mr. Pompeo’s visit. I elaborate.
From the revelations of Guyana’s contract details with Exxon, my position was that the 2% bone-in-the-throat share for Guyana was lopsided, but the best deal possible, given the Venezuelan elephant sitting on our heads. In sum, though I didn’t like the contract, I recognized that it was the territory held, with the existential Venezuelan threat duly considered. This was contrarian, but where I stood then and stand today. The change of government has not changed my position, regardless of who is in power.
Then, I warned that that the foreigners were too involved during our stormy elections, that a price is attached. Nobody cares because flights about democracy were in the air. Well, today, the America, through Mr. Pompeo comes to collect its pound of flesh. Or, as to use a Mafia term: collect the vigorish. That means Venezuela. Guyana owes America. It must pay the Debt Collector Pompeo.
Thus, when Foreign Minister, Hugh Todd, said that Venezuela was not on the agenda, I paused. How could it not be? What, then, brings the mighty man here? It came to light afterwards under that maritime patrols to interdict curtailing activity means that Venezuela, indeed, does feature prominently. I understand that the real bolts and nuts of US visions for Venezuela will not be made public today. Developments on the ground, however, will confirm or negate the positions I am taking.
I think Mr. Pompeo comes to discuss the use of Guyana as a conduit to undermine our neighbour. After all, it is about socialism, the largest oil reserves, and a non-cooperative government, all anathematic to America. That is where I stand on this visit, and which does not change, whether it is the PNC or PPP at the helm. Should the PPP not partner, it is my belief that the opposition could be marshalled to destabilize the standing government. This has been executed right here before and around the world. As I see it, the PPP has no choice since it owes. Well, it had to pay and it did. I call it protection money.
But as I have voiced and written, the PPP has an opportunity to lean on Secretary Pompeo to get a little that is beneficial to Guyana. Since Venezuela is a priority for America, then Guyana must seize the moment and table its needs relative to ExxonMobil. This is an American company that has two-way communication with both the White House and State Department. Get something in return, push for something to give, through the auspices of our distinguished visitor. It can be done. Except that nothing was.
I believe that PPP leaders could have tried, through Mr. Pompeo, to influence (force) Exxon to the table. It has to come since so much hinges on all parties being in lockstep, so that everybody gets something that is prized. America gets access. Exxon gets cheap (still) oil. And Guyana gets a slew of peripheral pluses. For starters, on taxes, environmental costs, auditing costs, legal costs, Exxon must pay more, carry a more meaningful share. Also, training and local content must come for significant backing, funding, and partnering. Why not some expensive infrastructure assistance? My thinking is a drop here and another there adds up to a decent bucket. I have written and recommended all of those at different times and in different places under the cover that there are different ways to skin a cat. Yet, from all indications, Exxon did not feature at all.
I regret that Guyanese faithful followers saw it fit to discern the partisan. People, who have always been only about the party today, tomorrow, and forever, are now questioning me about country and sovereignty, when I am the only one who has been talking about that; and that both PPP and PNC loyalists know nothing about what is an anachronism to them. So, it is ironic. In fact, anyone taking the time to listen and read carefully will detect that I have given the PPP a boost and cover, while staying scrupulously within the boundaries of what I have presented before and how I have always thought about Guyana, Venezuela, America, and Exxon and the bedfellows that they make. It is a lot that can neither be denied nor eluded. We have to live with it. Now we must play and pay our part (again) in all that follows from the visit of Secretary Pompeo. I caution: whatever details we get will be only the lesser half of it. That, too, is part of the American Way. Guyanese must stop playing their simplistic games and be honest.
Here is one last point: if my neighbour casts eyes on a huge part of my property, then any strong defender is my friend. I call it survival instinct. That is where I am and it has no politics.
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