Source says Cam­bridge An­a­lyt­ica hasn’t done work here

-par­ties deny link to firm

Stabroek News Sunday - - NEWS -

Al­though SCL Elec­tions, the par­ent com­pany of Cam­bridge An­a­lyt­ica (CA), has an of­fice in Guyana, it has not ac­tu­ally com­pleted any projects here, ac­cord­ing to a source as­so­ci­ated with the lo­cal sub­sidiary of the Bri­tish po­lit­i­cal con­sult­ing firm.

CA is cur­rently the sub­ject of in­ves­ti­ga­tions over its har­vest­ing of per­sonal information from Face­book users, with­out their con­sent, for the cre­ation of tar­geted po­lit­i­cal ads for US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign in the 2016 elec­tion. The firm’s role in the fiercely con­tested Brexit ref­er­en­dum in the UK is also un­der scru­tiny af­ter whistle­blow­ers re­vealed they worked for the Leave.EU cam­paign.

The com­pany, ac­cord­ing to its web­site, pro­vides data, an­a­lyt­ics and strat­egy to gov­ern­ments and mil­i­tary or­ga­ni­za­tions world­wide and has pro­vided dif­fer­ent services for dif­fer­ent clients.

Guyana has been iden­ti­fied by SCL Elec­tions on its web­site as home to one of its clients.

“We es­tab­lished in late 2015, early 2016, with the in­ten­tion to pro­vide mar­ket and so­cial re­search services as had been done in other parts of the Caribbean. We were not able to drum up any busi­ness, how­ever, and we never ap­proached any of the po­lit­i­cal par­ties,” the source, how­ever, ex­plained.

The three ma­jor po­lit­i­cal par­ties have also told Sun­day Stabroek that they did not utilise CA’s services dur­ing the 2011 or 2015 elec­tions.

For­mer Pres­i­dent Don­ald Ramo­tar noted that CA “didn’t do elec­toral work for the Peo­ple’s Pro­gres­sive Party/Civic while [he] was General Sec­re­tary (GS) or Pres­i­den­tial Can­di­date.” Ramo­tar served as GS from 1997 to 2013 and was pres­i­den­tial can­di­date in 2011 and 2015.

General Sec­re­tary of A Part­ner­ship for Na­tional Unity (APNU) Joseph Har­mon made a sim­i­lar state­ment. He stressed that hav­ing acted as cam­paign manager in 2011 and 2015, he could state that CA was never em­ployed by the party.

Min­is­ter of Pub­lic In­fra­struc­ture, David Patterson who man­aged the Al­liance For Change (AFC) cam­paign in 2015, told Sun­day Stabroek, “they never worked with us.”

Around the world

News site Quartz has re­ported that in Kenya SCL rolled out a po­lit­i­cal re­search pro­ject cov­er­ing 47,000 re­spon­dents as part of an ef­fort to un­der­stand the needs and fears of the elec­torate.

“SCL sub­se­quently ad­vised the client (one of Kenya’s two prin­ci­pal par­ties) on communications, brand­ing and pol­icy,” a com­pany doc­u­ment re­port­edly states. The prin­ci­pal is re­ported to pos­si­bly be Kenyan pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta, who is re­ported to have used the firm’s services in 2013 and 2017.

Ac­cord­ing to var­i­ous me­dia re­ports on the con­tent of com­pany doc­u­ments is­sued around 2013, SCL has worked in 32 coun­tries across Europe, North and South Amer­ica, Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. More than 100 elec­tion cam­paigns were re­port­edly af­fected.

In the Caribbean SCL claims to have worked in Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Gre­nada, St Vin­cent and the Gre­nadines, Saint Lu­cia, St Kitts and Ne­vis and An­tigua and Bar­buda.

Pre­sent­ing St Kitts and Ne­vis as a case study on its web­site, the com­pany says it man­aged the Labour Party’s general elec­tion cam­paign in 2010, lead­ing to the un­prece­dented fourth-term vic­tory of Prime Min­is­ter Denzil Dou­glas.

The SCL doc­u­ments also re­port­edly claim that the com­pany was able to de­lay elec­tions and stage a “na­tional pride” cam­paign that helped its client hold on to power in the late 2000s.

The goal of the cam­paign was to re­mind the pop­u­la­tion that de­spite tough times the coun­try was work­ing well and im­prov­ing. The ‘It’s Work­ing’ cam­paign cov­ered tourism, health, ed­u­ca­tion, sport and the econ­omy and be­came so pop­u­lar that it was em­braced across the po­lit­i­cal di­vide.

An­other case study pre­sented is the 2009 Trinidad and Tobago elec­tions about which the web­site states that the em­ploy­ment of CA’s re­search-based dif­fer­en­tial cam­paigns and es­tab­lish­ment of con­sis­tent pol­icy and var­ie­gated communications con­trib­uted to the Peo­ple’s Part­ner­ship Coali­tion’s land­slide vic­tory. The vic­tory like­wise saw Trinidad & Tobago’s firstever fe­male Prime Min­is­ter. CA sub­se­quently sup­ported the gov­ern­ing coali­tion with on­go­ing ad­vice, it added.

Trinidad’s PNM gov­ern­ment has launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the com­pany’s ac­tiv­i­ties on the twin-is­land repub­lic.

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