Dec 06, 2023 Letters
In his speech accepting the Noble Prize for Literature, Gabriel Garcia Marquez roved around Latin America cataloging several of the despots and dictators that had reigned in the region; including the wars, massacres, coups and the heedlessly cruel rate of infant mortality. His description of an area was one within which resided dark pockets of people of ‘unending obstinancy’.
Historically, a continent that shifted when the aftermath of wars fought in Europe and beyond influenced boundaries in the Americas; this created almost unending strife, propelling those who evolved from liberators to dictators to act with impunity. The labyrinth that could be the search for identity often lead to actions contemptuous of the rule of law and any initial egalitarian motive or ideology.
We who reside in Guyana are experiencing a moment whereby the arbitrary and willful oppression by a sister nation is superseding any that we have experienced at the hands of former colonial masters, since independence. Recently, the accepted body of international law and arbitration, the International Court of Justice, issued a ruling concerning the area in Guyana east of the Essequibo river, concluding that the land belongs to Guyana and legitimately comprises part of its national territory.
Leader of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicholas Maduro, in furtherance of the lunacy of his predecessor, plans to hold a consultative referendum on Dec 3 to reinforce the spurious claim that the lawful area forming part of its neighbor’s territory belongs to Venezuela and should be established as the ‘Guayana Esequiba’.
Apparently, President Maduro has decided to forgo all logic and reason, in flagrant violation of the results of a decision long established by an international commission set up for this purpose in 1899. Venezuelan leadership displays an intractable obstinancy and recidivism by continuing to claim the territory outside of international law. They have chosen to disregard the recent decision by the ICJ and plow ahead with their misguided, bewilderingly irrational referendum.
Because Pres. Maduro cannot answer the questions of his own people, such as: why are there over 7.7 million Venezuelan refugees worldwide, since September 2023; or why is inflation 398% year-on-year as of July 2023; and what is the cause of the sustained recession from 2014 to 2020, when in less than 7 years the economy shrunk about 70%? And because no discernible, working plan exists to rescue what is essentially an anti-democratic, robustly corrupt state of ‘hyper-populist’ policies and political dealings; the demagogue wanna-be has whisked the long-settled territorial claims out of his political bag of useless tricks.
Perhaps the number of citizens fleeing the country, terrified of the worthlessness of their national currency, seeing their beloved nation fall from grace as a pre-eminent petro-state to one of despair ruled by a diseased government; this has moved Pres Maduro to take on a hostile posturing towards Guyana, because he can….. Distracting his citizens from the disastrous chasm he’s led the country into seems to be his plan. Asking his citizens’ opinion on a matter that is irrelevant.
That is the definition of lunacy. To attempt to re-direct an entire nation’s attention into needlessly bellicose posturing. Towards a neighbor that has never started wars, never engaged in violence towards other nations, never sought to oppress others or make spurious claims beyond its borders.
In writing about the great Liberator, Simon Bolivar, after whom Venezuela takes its full name; fellow Latin American Gabriel Garcia Marquez detailed the last few weeks of a ruined general, one whose greatness had faded; illness and memories haunting his existence as he succumbed and dwindled into passing. The feverish flourishing of autocrats that infects the continent has not run its course, democratic rationality has not served to curb ill-advised actions of leaders clamouring about real or imagined foreign hegemony.
It is curious, as there is no imperialism to rail against in Guyana. We are a country in transition, one that has waited a long time for ascendency. Why begrudge us, when we have been patiently awaiting our destiny?
Guyana is indeed resource-rich; yet we are a nation comprised of the descendents of slaves, labourers, indentured servants, workers, indigenous peoples, etc…we are not the oppressors or colonizers of the world. The good fortune of having an incredibly valuable resource within our maritime boundaries does not come without a price. We are not as developed as Venezuela once was. But, our leadership is visionary and seeks collaborative relationships with the world’s nations that will aid our growth and ability to utilize our natural resources for the benefit of our populace. They do not run about beating the drums of war and destruction. Instead, they look to how our nation can be built better, at exactly no one’s expense but our own. Because it is finally within the realm of our economic ability. Guyana is not seizing the patrimony of another; we are not bullies nor are we heedless of international law and our commitment to the peaceful co-existence of nations.
President Maduro cannot say the same. As he reigns over a fallen state, itself a relic of the Spanish empire freed by the Liberator, he needs to address his responsibilities towards his own people. Our leaders reach far and wide to whomever can be beneficial to Guyana, their priority is to pivot Guyana into a position of financial and economic prosperity, not to drag the Guyanese people over a bed of nails in search of an elusive grandiose dream of continental dominance. We have taken the hand we were dealt with, as a small, former British Colony, and through the good and the bad we are forging our own destiny.
Mr. Maduro’s posturing calls to mind this line from Marquez’s speech about Latin America: “Our Independence from Spanish domination did not put us beyond the reach of madness.” Essequibo belongs to the independent nation of Guyana…it is insanity to think otherwise.
Scheherazade Ishoof Khan
Leaders prostituting Guyana
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