Jan 14, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – The unbelievable occurred earlier this week. Global Witness came out and said that it is refocusing its interests, rebalancing its energies, and reprioritizing the areas that mean more to it. In normal circumstances, that development would hardly attract a yawn, or much more than passing attention. But what happened right here in Guyana, and as recent as last year, from the minds and at the hands of Global Witness operators during Guyana’s turbulent elections season was anything but normal. What Global Witness engaged in was extraordinary, by any standards looked at or any measure employed. So, for this entity to now come out when the dust has settled for it (it alone) with this bland announcement is not only startling, but it is also eye-opening and deeply troubling.
What the UK-based Global Witness group did in its “Signed Away” report was to place the explosive in the middle of Guyana and in the middle of its divisive elections campaign season. Details about the lopsided Exxon deal negotiated and finalized by the coalition, calculations of some US$55B surrendered by Guyana, and the weakness of leading Guyanese political figures in dealing with Exxon were all put under the sharpest of microscopes. It was timely, and thought to be relevant. However, when pressed by a number of recognized local activists as to the basis for its calculations on revenues given up, Global Witness balked and hedged. In fact, it did not come clean with how it arrived at its numbers, and which has caused some agitations in opposition political ranks.
Before going any further, we at this paper wish to state something and most unambiguously: we are not revisiting or reliving the last elections tempests. Rather, we are focused on how this reputable agency could deliver the equivalent of a bomb in the middle of Guyana’s usually raw and passionate elections, and now come up with this disclaimer of sorts. For sure, the group is on record as saying that its stands by the integrity of the report, but it is withdrawing it anyway. Since there is such comfort and confidence in the integrity of its report, there is no reason for Global Witness to step out in January 2021, almost a year after that fateful March 2 elections date, to articulate that it is withdrawing the report. The report either stands or fall on its merits, thus there is no need for any withdrawal. We are trying hard not to see what occurred this way, but what Global Witness did through that “Signed Away” report was almost like the dangerous character crying fire in the crowded marketplace, only for those victimized and mocked to discover that it was all a pretense and a hoax, at their expense.
It is obvious that this is what the vanquished coalition and its supporters must be harbouring, as they absorb this shocker from Global Witness. This is said, because its ferocious political opponents made sure that they made hay with the contents of that report to register how much better it could have done and would do, and how poorly the whole oil negotiating business unfolded and came to its shabby conclusion. If there is one thing on which the now opposition coalition has some justification to be angry and concerned, it is that this “Signed Away” report with all of its damning points is now being lamely withdrawn, and under some carefully constructed wording that do not fool anyone.
For today, Global Witness is all about going back to its core and its roots, its raison d’etre, so to speak, in areas such as climate change, abuse of power, corporate capture, and so forth. Observers and commentators in this country have to be wondering, what the initial insertion and broadside (to the detriment of one political side) was all about, as in the body’s underlying agenda. The opposition itself is sure to lead a groundswell of disgust at how outsiders deliberately interfered and tampered with Guyana’s elections for ulterior motives, one of which was to unseat by any means available.
It is disappointing that Global Witness has suddenly decided to change horses in midstream. It leaves lots of questions unaddressed and hanging as to what really it’s true role was here, the purpose of that report, as well as on whose behalf it was acting and, therefore, against whose interests. The withdrawal of this report is most unexpected, and does not sit well, and this is no matter how much Global Witness says it stands by the integrity of that upheaving “Signed Away” report. Something is not adding up.
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