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As Guyana stands on the precipice of a transformative era, buoyed by an oil boom that promises unparalleled prosperity, the shadows cast by giants such as Exxon loom large, raising profound questions about equity, sovereignty, and the very fabric of democracy in this burgeoning economy.
With an election looming in two years, the political discourse has become a cauldron of promises, accusations, and a pervasive narrative that paints the quest for fair compensation and economic justice as mere “handouts.” The audacity of such a narrative, especially when echoed against the backdrop of Exxon’s substantial oil extraction operations—more than half a million barrels a day—is not just insulting but a glaring indictment of the disconnect in the minds of Guyana’s leaders, between the country’s potential wealth and the reality of its people’s struggles.
The recent spectacle at a public forum hosting President Ali, where, to a round of applause, he stated that citizens should feel entitled to support from the government must have missed the ears of Ashni Singh and Bharrat Jagdeo, the nation’s scrooges. On one hand, there’s a recognition of the citizens’ right to benefit from their nation’s resources, yet, on the other, the ugly reality is that teachers have to strike for fair wages in oil-rich Guyana.
This dichotomy is further exacerbated by the legal battles surrounding Exxon’s operations, particularly the contentious issue of liability in the event of an oil spill. The judiciary’s attempts to enforce a semblance of accountability is met with resistance and claims of overreach by both Exxon and, disappointingly, the government of Guyana itself, and is a stark reminder of the uphill battle faced by those championing the cause of the Guyanese people.
The cheering and clapping at political rallies, the courtrooms’ legal jargon, and the staggering daily oil outputs all converge on a singular point: the future of Guyana and its people hangs in the balance. As foreign companies boast of increased production and the potential benefits to their shores, the citizens of Guyana are left grappling with the reality of their diminishing sovereignty over their natural resources.
The narrative of development and prosperity peddled by both the government and Exxon cannot and should not obscure the pressing issues at hand. The plight of the Guyanese people, their right to a fair share of their country’s wealth, and the safeguarding of their environment and future must take precedence over the profit margins of oil conglomerates.
As Guyana navigates this critical juncture in its history, the call to action is clear, the government of Guyana must recalibrate its priorities to serve the interests of its citizens, ensuring that the oil boom yields not just dividends for Exxon and a few already wealthy families and friends of the PPP government, but tangible benefits for the many. The time is now for Guyana to assert its sovereignty, demand accountability, and secure a future where prosperity is shared, not siphoned away.