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Even in the worst of times over the past four decades there has been little argument within Guyana on our foreign relations. Guyana proudly hosted the non-aligned conference of foreign ministers in 1972; chaired the Council for Namibia at the UN; promoted Caribbean unity which led to the formation of CARICOM as well as the establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba. Guyana’s voice was effective and respected in the international community.
The same cannot be said in recent times. We confuse even ourselves as in recent days with the embarrassing and shameful behaviour on the issue of Taiwan seemingly in a callous manner to abandon the long standing One China Policy. The government has also remained silent on any matter pertaining to Haiti and the manner in which it dealt with the free movement of peoples within CARICOM was fully exposed with its recent handling of the Haitian refugee matter.
There is little doubt that the PPP government made several agreements with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The Guyanese people have not been informed about any agreements and/or commitments which were made. In sharp contrast to the APNU+AFC administration the Irfaan Ali regime has supported interference in Venezuela’s electoral affairs, de recognized the Polisario Front and so withdrew support from the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination thus giving comfort to Morocco’s territorial ambitions on Western Sahara. This claim has been recognized by the United States but never by the United Nations. Was the real motive the development of economic relations with Taiwan or a response to wishes of the United States?
One would have thought that the chairing of the Group of 77 at the United Nations and the legacy of Forbes Burnham and Cheddi Jagan would have informed a higher consciousness and prompted ethical responses on the diplomatic front.
There was a time in this country where it was axiomatic that there would be general agreement on significant foreign policy issues. This is particularly true for any position on Venezuela. So far, there has been no attempt to engage relevant stakeholder views in any timely or structured way.
Guyana has to rebuild its independent and principled foreign policy positions on the regional and world stage. In the months it has been in office the PPP government has allowed the country’s diplomatic and foreign policy to be guided by issues related more to that party’s narrow political interests with little or no regard to Guyana’s legacy in conducting a principled foreign policy and also demonstrating little concern for the interest of the Guyanese people as a whole for now or the future.
Leader of the Opposition