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Henry Alfred Kissinger, former US Secretary of State told the world bluntly a long time ago, ‘America has no permanent friends, only interests’. Despite his candid pronouncement, global leaders continue to pay attention only to the public posture of some Presidents of the United States and ignore the aforementioned iron-clad rule and a plethora of historical examples. He gave us crass but great counsel on a guiding principle that seems timeless. Yet, some continue to dream and dabble in high idealism at the most critical times, vis-à-vis US relations and geopolitics in this region. How many times must it be repeated ad nauseum? There is no love, it is just interests.
Thus, those who enjoyed the fruits of Trump and the Republican system can once again emerge in the favor of a Biden administration. Also, those who were in the cold during the ignominious reign of Trump could remain there if they continue to fail at the game of US geopolitics.
THE US LOBBY SYSTEM
The First Amendment of the US Constitution protects the right to free speech and the need to petition the government. In this context, the lobbying system receives its legal imprimatur and is exploited to the maximum. While there are laws and statutes that govern this practice, once it is executed legally, there is little or no intervention. Interest groups hire well-connected professional advocates who are often attorneys to specific decisions and the enactment of laws. In the case of Guyana and the region, political parties may hire powerful law firms to gain access to the White House, the State Department, the US Congress and other decision-making bodies in the world’s great superpower. The famous K street NW at 19th Washington D.C where the offices of big powerful lobbying firms are located, could easily get a government of Guyana to right their wrongs with the US government and get an opposition to mend fences with Washington.
THE VENEZUELA EXAMPLE
On October 25th, 2020, Venezuela’s opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez fled his homeland and reunited with his family in Spain, following years of being under house arrest and being holed up in the residence of the Spanish Ambassador in Caracas. From Spain, he has mounted an effective campaign against the Maduro regime who has labeled him as a murderer and a terrorist. Key to Mr. Lopez’s strategy against the embattled President of Venezuela, is the use of the lobbying system in the United States of America. From afar, he has been able to exert pressure by utilizing the services of powerful lobbying firms that hold the reigns of influence within the US government and republican apparatus.
When Joe Biden won the US elections on November 3rd, Lopez immediately began searching for new access because he understood that a change in government in Washington does not automatically mean that the status quo will persist unless you gain the right access to Washington through a new firm in the new geopolitical paradigm. He knew that he must be ahead of the game before the Maduro regime gains enough footing with the new administration.
THE GUYANA EXAMPLE
With all that I have said thus far, consider this. In April, 2019, the General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party, Bharrat Jagdeo announced that his party inked a contract with Mercury Public Affairs. He opined that this move was intended to ensure that his party had a presence in Washington and also, to counter any lies being peddled by the ruling APNU-AFC government. Some naïve leaders on the opposing side dismissed this move as a mere attempt to seize the public relations initiative. It was not until they were caught up in the vortex of an elections dispute, they recognized the power of the lobby system. Mercury was able to tap into a vast and powerful republican and democrat political ecosystem that brought unrelenting pressure to bear on the government.
That is done and dusted. Today, the shadows of such naivety are once again appearing on the walls of Georgetown. There is a juvenile school of thought that dares to suggest: a Biden administration will come and wave the geopolitical magic wand and deliver electoral justice. On the contrary, Mercury could be fired and Public Strategies Washington could be hired and the status quo remains, nay, intensify.