Sep 12, 2023 Editorial
Kaieteur News – ExxonMobil, with sweet assistance from the Government of Guyana, is all hustle and muscle with the sixth oil project. It is not as if ExxonMobil has a scarcity of Guyanese projects to work with, yet it is barreling ahead, to lock-in the sixth oil project. The focus today is on this must have, seemingly life and death, sixth oil project, with conspicuous company announcements about upcoming public consultations.
With a glance at the history of ExxonMobil’s public consultations for other oil projects, the issue is whether Guyana has ever had what could be accurately termed public consultations in the fullness of what such means. Our position is made clear right now: Guyanese have not been privileged to the kind of public consultations from ExxonMobil that does justice to either the peoples of this oil rich country, or to what such represents on the average. Considering what has gone on before, Guyanese have been on the receiving end of not public consultations, but public evasions, which is putting a generous polish on matters. Candidly, the public consultations that ExxonMobil has put on to date have been really more about public limitation, even public distortions.
What is damning is that these orchestrations and manipulations of ExxonMobil under the flag of public consultations have been executed with the full backing of the Government of Guyana. Guyanese have been shortchanged again and again, kept in the dark, and then given a smooth pat on the head, with the unspoken advice of ‘go home and leave these things alone.’ Some Guyanese, however, will have nothing to do with such corporate balms.
It is why earlier public consultations by ExxonMobil have come in for scathing criticisms from local observers, with positions such as ‘joke’ or ‘farce’or ‘smokescreen’ expressed openly. The impression that sparks deep within many Guyanese is that they are being taken for granted, and looked upon as a dumb, ignorant, and backward people, so give them anything for public consultations, then mark the completed box. Naturally, this has not gone down well locally, which the PPP/C Government labours strenuously to overcome. It is why the name ExxonMobil has taken on pariah status, as Guyanese become more informed on how they have been cheated by a crippling contract, and on a continual basis via these rich oil projects from which they get an insulting pittance.
This is not a good background, nor a helpful environment, for public consultations on this sixth oil project to make an appearance. Guyanese wish to be taken as serious people and as genuinely equal partners, and not as some second-rate citizens that can be pushed around. The public consultations must be real and in-depth, and ExxonMobil must demonstrate that it is open to authentic exchanges and not the contemptuous shams that it has rolled out in the past. ExxonMobil must be more than polite and accommodating, the people in ExxonMobil’s public consultations for this sixth oil project must come clean.
The people from ExxonMobil must not play that old trick now perfected by the Vice President of taking up the bulk of the time (running out the clock), and then rushing through the questions and concerns of Guyanese in the limited time left. ExxonMobil and its Guyanese guides must also not try that other favourite about certain probing inquiries being ‘outside of scope’. There is no such thing. Guyanese have plenty at stake in these public consultations and they have learned hard lessons. It is imperative that ExxonMobil send people with multiple skills sets, and that all come prepared for extended sessions of aggressive questioning and tough discussions.
On each occasion that Guyanese have attended these public consultations (comedy shows), they have been cooperative, while they are being swindled by a sick contract, and then each new project. This foolishness has to stop now: Guyanese have to draw a line on ExxonMobil’s face: this is how it is going to be. It must make crystal clear that both the Government and its leaders have lost the standing and trust that they once held. Guyanese must stir into anger at the robberies heaped on their heads. They must speak boldly, squeeze answers from these public consultations for the sixth project.
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