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Last Wednesday, December 9, Guyana and 21 other member countries, at a meeting held by the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States (OAS), voted to reject Venezuela Parliamentary Elections. Noted in the rejection vote is Venezuela whose representative at the OAS is from the Opposition, and the United States of America (USA) under the leadership of President Donald Trump, an administration that has rejected the Nicolás Maduro government and is determined to remove him from office by whatever means.
The Irfaan Ali administration has been coerced by the Trump administration to facilitate the undermining and removal of the Madura government. Thus far this government is proving itself to be a willing partner in executing the plan, seemingly uncaring about exacerbating Guyana’s relationship with Venezuela. Guyana, unlike those who voted to reject the elections, has a border controversy with our neighbour.
In its blinkered outlook the Government continues to tread dangerous waters by interfering into the internal affairs of a sovereign nation, particularly one who continues to make false claims to two-thirds of our territory. Guyana has taken the case before the International Court of Justice who on December 18 will rule whether it has jurisdiction to hear the 1899 Arbitral Award Case against Venezuela. The Government is either myopic in thinking its unholy alliance with the USA to remove Madura, even after the Trump administration was voted out of office, will be to its political value or has allowed itself to be bullied into toeing the line. Either situation does not serve Guyana’s national interest because the country is picking a fight with another whose military might is significantly more.
The scenario continues to bring to the fore a foreign policy not built on practicality, preservation of national interest and safety of Guyanese but on cowardice and self-interest. The Ali administration is paying little heed to the murky waters they are treading and the risk they are exposing the nation and citizens to. They are bent on being a slave to a foreign power (Trump) who in his own country continues to act contrary to centuries of established norms, has been rejected at the polls by the people, and at the courts in his efforts to overturn their will.
The incoming Joe Biden administration has yet to announce its policy towards Venezuela. Though it is not customary, in one swipe, for the incoming USA administration to overturn the previous administration’s decisions on foreign policy given an overarching national interest, the Ali administration is ignoring the fact that the Trump administration was seen as an anomaly not a norm. President-elect Biden has already signalled his administration intent, on day one, to rejoin the World Health Organisation and United Nations Paris Climate Agreement which President Trump withdrew from.
Guyana is also a member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) which embraces the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. The Ali administration may be quick to point out that some CARICOM member-states voted to reject Venezuela parliamentary elections. While this is so it does not excuse Guyana’s vote. The continuous interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs is worrisome.
The foreign policy of non-interference and non-alignment has served Guyana well for the half-century of independence. Ours has been a nation at peace with other nations in a turbulent global environment. There has been relative peace with Venezuela despite the border controversy, but Guyana is now stoking a confrontation to appease a superpower whose citizens are war weary and its incumbent less than five weeks away from demitting office. The continuous interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs is ill-advised and places at risk Guyana and the lives of Guyanese. President Ali would do well to pay heed.