By GHK Lall
US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, came, saw, and conquered Guyana in all of less than a single full day. As an American I am proud; as a Guyanese I shrink from the implications underlying Mr. Pompeo’s successful visit. God has blessed, again, America; he must hate Guyana with the nonsense in which we engage.
I heard and read the banner headlines: the signing of maritime trade agreements. Now there is a shotgun agreement, if ever there was one, with electoral debts paid. Those agreements provide the perfect cover with such diverse areas of application as terrorism and narco-trafficking interdiction. Guyana needs as much help as it can get on the latter. Who can argue about likely benefits? So, on the face of it, that is a good thing and I congratulate the PPP government. But there is a catch. Remember that one about ‘no free lunch’ that I like to use? Here it comes.
Maritime trade pacts executed means men in the area of Venezuela and possible boots on the ground for forays to over there. Such details, of course, are never specified in maritime cooperation agreements. Something called plausible deniability is provided for both Guyana and America. But the real details, the substance behind those maritime agreements become obvious when somebody gets captured or killed in the vicinity of some Venezuelan neighborhood. Think Nicaragua of old; and, in recent times, some folks captured by the Columbian border. I should mention that the potential victims would not be Guyanese, but from 2500 miles away. Another unwritten and unstated aspect of those agreements would the flotilla umbrella furnished for the protection of Exxon’s operations.
In every area, my fellow Americans win handily. Now for the Guyanese side, which troubles me so much. Since Guyana would be (like it or not) aider and abettor, from the perspective of Venezuela, that introduces a dangerous degree of vulnerability for this country. We could become a tempting target for Venezuela to get even. Like I have warned before, all it would take is one drop on the northernmost concrete barricade of Georgetown and we would be swimming with the fishes, maybe sleeping with them. I am struggling for the right fit here: necessary evil, acceptable risk, collateral damage all come, but somehow they lack that fullness of feeling for what I wish to present. Still, I think that my fellow Guyanese get the picture of what is involved, and what could be a product of unintended consequences, though that is a bit of a stretch. We better pen our eyes and get some sense, as to where all of this could lead.
But there is more that America gets, which Mr. Pompeo delivers to his boss in Washington. This development in Guyana may have just delivered the swing (battleground)state of Florida to the incumbent Chief Executive. Currently, it is deadlocked, but I think that all of those 200,000 plus Venezuelans in Florida, who are eligible to vote just exercised the franchise in favor of the Republican candidate. That could be the icebreaker and difference maker. Instead of hanging chads, Guyanese are the ones left hanging.
In addition, I understand that Mr. Pompeo announced help to the tune of some US$5M to assist with Venezuelans here. That is one billion Guyana and could go a long way, once handled honestly. But that’s beside the point, which is that Venezuelans in the United States are watching, listening, and reading. This politically thoughtful generosity has to please them. For they would identify with fellow refugees forced to flee from their homeland by the Bolivarian Revolution started by Hugo and now perpetuated by Maduro. It would be a case where everybody likes Mike. By extension that means his boss. It also feathers Mr. Pompeo’s cap when he readies to run for the presidency in 2024.
In the meantime, Guyana has just got a powerful big brother (just like I said with that 2% contract) which it paid for in treasure. And, last, the PPP has proven that it is a good business partner, and one that holds up its end of elections bargains by paying its debts. What is there not to like about all of this, except for the inconvenience of a bomb falling from overhead and water flowing through a blasted beachhead? Like I said: America got what it wanted and came out ahead; Guyanese leaders are now left to put the best face on things after giving up the shop with nothing to show for it. We fell behind some more.