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The European Union (EU) local representative, Ambassador Fernando Ponz Cantó, in marking the Union’s Day on Sunday sent a clear message to Guyana. He would like Guyanese to be assured the EU cares about Guyana’s democracy and development and is available to provide such support.
In some areas the Ambassador’s assurance may be questioned given the role the EU and others played in the 2020 Election. Guyanese also note while the EU, United Kingdom, United States and Canada are quick to say they care about democracy in Guyana and were prepared to intercede, in what some believe was an orchestrated plan at regime change, the diplomats since declaration of the results have taken more or less a hands-off role.
Important to Guyana’s democracy is engagement between the President and Leader of the Opposition. Ten months into the Irfaan Ali government there has been no engagement, none, between the President and Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Joseph Harmon.
The Public Accounts Committee which is important to financial democracy in its oversight role is not being allowed to function. The hindrance of the Committee is based on the government wrongfully assuming the role that it could determine who the Opposition elects as the Committee’s Chair.
The international diplomatic community has largely since remained silent to these constitutional violations of democracy, save for one or two solicited comments about the need for engagement. The silence is not helping the EU seeking to reaffirm commitment to democracy in Guyana, the development of Guyana and lending support to same. With the basic guardrails of democracy being shaken, in apparent effort to topple established institutions of government, there should be outcries not silence and flowery words.
The EU Ambassador sought to also assure that the Union has an interest that the wealth of Guyana’s natural resources be used for the benefit of all. It is true that the natural resources belong to all Guyanese. What remains doubtful is whether all Guyanese will benefit. Guyanese are being made to feel the revenue from oil and gas would be to the benefit of a few and well connected not all. There is some evidence of that. There is no public education structure in place to prepare Guyanese to become employed in the sector.
At the most basic these aforementioned vexing issues would have to be addressed. And where there seems no effort by external allies, who claim interest in Guyana’s democracy and equitable distribution of the natural resources, the EU’s hope remains the fear of Guyanese. Many fear that forces are at work not only to undermine democracy in Guyana but also to ensure not all benefit from Guyana’s natural resources.