Apr 28, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – Yesterday, the 19th find in Guyana’s offshore oil fields in the ExxonMobil-operated Stabroek Block was announced. The implication of this should be obvious – if managed well and in the interest of all Guyanese, this would further assure that this country, long rich with resources but long poor with developmental vision or execution, at last has a chance to elevate its people from what has frankly been squalor, both existential and economic. The jury however is still out on that one as our ethno-political divisions continue to plague us.
What we can be virtually certain about however is that the Government of our neighbour to the west, Venezuela, is going to use this discovery as yet another opportunity for sabre-rattling against us, with the core purpose, of course, of distraction against the slow-rolling extended crisis that continues to suck the life out of that besieged Bolivarian Republic.
Our options remain exclusively within the range of soft power strategies, which is to say that we need to enhance our ongoing information offensive against what has been a strategy from Nicolas Maduro’s administration that is based upon an admixture of ad hoc petulance, bluster and dead-end excursions into seizure of private property in Guyana’s territorial waters.
We need to put in place a clear-cut strategy of public information based on four main pillars: establishing the accurate historical narrative of the controversy; explaining the fundamental legality of Guyana’s internationally accepted borders; underscoring that this is about the very simple but powerful concept of national sovereignty, one that extends from every individual Guyanese citizen outward to Guyana’s territory and all the resources contained therein; and a consideration of the socio-economic issues that currently plague the Venezuelan people, many of whom have been forced to flee to this country, as they have others, as the humanitarian crisis there expands.
With those four pillars established, a plan has to be created to get those core messages out to the people of Guyana, across class, across political parties, across languages and across the massive urban-rural, coastal-interior divide. It seems that there has recently been some commendable effort in this regard.
Last week, Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal, visited several communities in Region One, where he assured residents that Guyana has law and order on our side, and that residents of communities close to the border like Kamwatta, White Water and Yarakita have nothing to fear from Venezuelan aggression.
Croal stated, “If there is anything that all of us, on every side of the political divide, that we all agree on and have a commonality with, is that we have uniformity in our position and that is, Guyana belongs to us, the citizens of Guyana. And so, every one of us on the different sides of the political divide shares that view. When you have a unified country on a matter, it sends a powerful message.”
There is no doubt that this country is going to emerge whole and undiminished from the decades-long controversy and all the attendant aggression and posturing from various governments of Venezuela whenever they decided that it was politically expedient to seek to establish a false claim over Guyana’s territory. With that in mind, it should be considered – to follow Minister Croal’s logic – any new information offensive against Venezuela’s claims has to come from a sense of the very sort of national unity that has escaped us at least as long as Venezuela has been asserting its claims. In the long run, the greatest danger that we have to find a common, clear voice against, isn’t really external aggression but internal division and conflict.
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