Sep 27, 2023 Letters
Since elected to office three years ago on August2, 2020, President Dr. Irfaan Ali has meticulously, and thoroughly articulated policies on all issues in the most judicious manner at all regional and international forums and to the rest of the world, including our friendly neighbors in CARICOM and Latin America. At the 6th Plenary meeting of Heads of State of the 78th Session at the United Nations General Assembly, His Excellency Dr. Irfaan Ali in one of his most compelling and passionate speeches urged the leaders of the global community of nations to adopt a realistic and balanced approach to combat climate change and to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 to preserve the planet for future generations.
Dr. Ali emphatically stated to the more than 150 Heads of State present at the UN General Assembly that despite Guyana achieving net-zero emissions, it continues to pursue a low carbon development strategy aimed at sustainable resource utilization for inclusive and equitable development. The head of state stressed the importance of Guyana’s vast rain forests in mitigating climate change on a global scale and speaking truth to power, he was unyielding but graceful in his request that Guyana should be adequately compensated for its rain forests which is approximately the size of England and Scotland combined. Despite the glaring lights hovering above the assembly, and under immense pressure to convince the world leaders that Guyana could lead on climate change and that they should be committed to the task, a confident President Dr. Ali assured them that Guyana will do its party and probably more to save the planet.
A profoundly serious and pensive President did not mince words when he called on the Heads of State to work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals established by the UN, and to promote peace, prosperity, progress, and stability for all. In his most impactful speech, His Excellency emphasized the importance of multilateralism to address global challenges, particularly climate change and food security to lessen and or overcome poverty. Not only did he cite the widespread and devastating effects of climate change on the Global South countries like Guyana, but he also altruistically noted that these countries which continue to bear the brunt of the climate sensation have not contributed to the crisis. He was adamant and decisive when he told the leaders of the Global North countries which he claimed are the main contributors to climate change that they have the capacity to solve the problem and to provide adequate funding for the countries hardest hit by the attending effects.
Along with climate change, President Dr. Ali also tackled several other universal problems and issues, including global food crisis, health care, peace and security, respect for international law and sovereignty, territorial disputes, and support for the rights of Indigenous peoples around the world. In the case of the border dispute, President Dr. Ali scolded President Maduro on his threats to undermine Guyana’s sovereignty and its right to develop its resources which were reflected in a communique rejecting Guyana’s auctioning of oil blocks. He chided the Venezuelan leader for his refusal to respect international conventions and allow the International Court of Justice to settle the dispute amicably. President Ali warned Maduro that his unfounded threats could endanger the preservation of regional and international peace and security. The Guyanese Head of State was fearless and heroic when he demanded that Venezuela honors its obligation under the charter to pursue only peaceful means to settle its dispute it may have with Guyana, which dates to the resolution of October 3,1899Arbitral Award which validated the boundary between Guyana and Venezuela.
President Ali was not alone in condemning Venezuela’s attempts to bully Guyana and covet its territory. Support came from the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) Luis Almagro, who called on Venezuela to respect international law and Guyana’s sovereignty and to cease its intimidatory tactics against the government and people of Guyana. Meanwhile, the 15-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has called on Venezuela to abort its insane, absurd, and irrational threats toward Guyana and reiterated its full and unequivocal support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Guyana, including its right to peacefully develop the resources of its territory. The Secretary General of the Commonwealth of nations also condemned Venezuela for its aggressive behavior against Guyana.
However, the harshest and most forceful condemnation came from the United States of America Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Brian Nichols who said, “We vehemently condemned the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela unprovoked and unjustifiable threats that seek to undermine the principle of ‘good neighborliness’ and sovereignty and recognized the right of Guyana to welcome investors and develop its natural resources. The Assistant Secretary of State also issued a stern warning to Venezuela that any efforts to infringe upon Guyana’s sovereignty are unacceptable. He admonished Venezuela for its blatant disregard for international law, including the 1899 Arbitral Award and the ongoing ICJ legal process between the two countries.
President Dr. Irfaan Ali vowed to defend Guyana’s territorial sovereignty at all costs and by all peaceful means in the face of horrific and disturbing threats by Venezuela. As he puts it: “Guyana will spare no effort in defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity.” In concluding his speech, the President brilliantly and strongly reaffirmed Guyana’s solidarity with the global community, its commitment to multilateralism, and its readiness to collaborate with countries of all sizes and status to achieve peace and prosperity.
Following his speech at the United Nations General Assembly, President Dr. Ali addressed a group of patriotic Guyanese in Queens New York where he genuinely told them about the rapid developmental progress in the country. He candidly outlined several mega projects, including the building of the new Demerara harbor bridge and the construction of seven new hotels and several new hospitals, among others, the importance of human development and modern technology to move the country from its underdeveloped status to a developed nation by 2030. With constant interruption with cheers from the enthusiastic and vivacious audience, His Excellency not only thrilled the ecstatic crowd with his charisma, but he also encouraged them to invest in Guyana. Very impressive and at times emotional, he delightfully asked them to support his “One Guyana” vision which is both a cultural and development concept for a prosperous Guyana in which everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity or party affiliation will benefit. In the end, a jubilant and smiling President Dr. Ali took questions from the audience and was very jovial in some of his responses., He was cheerful and inspiring and connected well with the people, even an 11-year-old girl who thanked him for his visit to Queens.
Essequibo is we own, can we say the same about the oil?
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