Why is it necessary for the US Ambassador, Her Excellency Sarah Ann Lynch, to again call for inclusion, long term growth for all nationals and legislation against corruption? Ambassador Lynch’s remarks on the Wilson Centre’s Plaza Centre podcast titled “Guyana’s ‘oil Rush” were reported by Demerara Waves on 9 November. Ambassador Lynch is reported to have said: “It is an ethnically divided society and so they need to focus on inclusion and there have been many efforts to do so so far but they will need to continue to do that at an increased pace.”
In relation to economic growth the Ambassador said: “…we are encouraging them to focus on efforts that will create sustainable growth for the entire country no matter ethnicity, no matter race, no matter gender, no matter geography…” This implies that such a focus does not exist.
The Ambassador said that with lots of revenues pouring into the treasury, there was potential for corruption. She recommended that Guyana would need to enact and enforce legislation against corruption. These pages have dealt with these issues on multiple occasions. In December last year, on the occasion of the observance of International Anti-corruption Day, Ambassador Lynch had said 27 July, as reported by SN: “…governments and institutions cannot allow corruption to flourish” adding that “the construction of legislative frameworks for the promotion of transparency and the combatting of corruption are steps in the right direction.”
Ambassador Lynch’s remarks broadly follow the same sentiments expressed by US Secretary of State and US Vice President recently. In July President Irfan Ali, Vice President Jagdeo and others visited Washington at the invitation of the US Government. I do not recall a Guyana Head of State meeting, one on one, any US official higher than an Assistant Secretary of State while visiting Washington. President Jagan met President Clinton in the Caribbean as part of a Caricom team. I do not know if President Jagdeo met a US President at any conference. Therefore, for a Guyana’s President to meet a US Secretary of State, and even have a formal telephone conversation with a Vice President, were highly unusual. As with the visit of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the US Government through Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Vice President wanted to deliver a message which the highest reaches of the US Government consider to be of high importance to both Guyana and the US.
Blinken said that “Guyana remains a key partner as we work to bolster food and energy security, promote shared prosperity and inclusive growth, strengthen transparency, and safeguard the environment.” Vice President Harris “looked forward to continuing her collaboration with President Ali in promoting inclusive democracy, economic development and security for all Guyanese.”
These all follow a statement made in October, 2021, by Pedro J. Martin, the US State Department’s Acting Director of the Office of Caribbean Affairs, addressing a conference on “Doing Business with Guyana” in Florida called for “productive, inclusive, dialogue.”
The United States Government at the highest level supports ‘inclusion,’ ‘inclusive growth,’ ‘inclusive dialogue’ in Guyana and stressed their importance in the highest level meeting held with the President of Guyana in Washington. Yet, Guyanese have heard no proposals from the Guyana Government about its plans for inclusion. No one should be surprised if the US Government is becoming impatient and exasperated with Guyana.
Guyana has had no better international friend than the US in the past thirty years. The US Government, US agencies and bodies in which the US has influence, such as the IDB, the World Bank, NDI, IRI, Carter Centre and others, have supported Guyana and its institutions over the past three decades. Most importantly, the US has consistently supported democracy in Guyana, more recently in 2020. The PPP was the beneficiary of that support in that its victory at the elections were upheld and it took office. This was for the second time in thirty years, the first being in 1992, when the PPP also took office after the US’s intervention and remained in office democratically for 23 years. Why would a PPP/C Government now choose to blithely ignore representations made first by high US officials. It is baffling. The Guyana Government is inviting a hardening of US attitude to Guyana. After 2011 Guyana forgot the US’s role in the late 1980s and early 1990s and displayed hostility. It did not end well.
Past PPP/C Governments have claimed that inclusionary democracy exists although this Government has not made that claim. In fact, one of the main pillars of inclusionary democracy, namely, parliamentary sectoral committees, is not functioning, as claimed by the Opposition. Instead of seeking to strengthen the operational systems for inclusionary democracy and seek to consensually introduce new and additional structures, the Government is trying to make inroads of support in areas of opposition strength. That’s fine and should be welcomed by both parties, but it did not work before and will not work now. Those who speak about inclusion do not only mean politicking. They also mean inclusion through established institutions and the creation of new ones.