That American package is simply too neat
Her Excellency, American Ambassador Sarah Ann Lynch has spoken; she could not have spoken more clearly, or with more authority. Ambassador Lynch has praised the Government of Guyana for honouring, abiding by, being obedient to, the sanctity of contract (SN March 19). Whether I like this or not, Ambassador Lynch speaks on behalf of the American Government. After all the silence, all the subtleties and sophistications, this is to what and where the clashes over this contract stand: the business of America is business. A hundred years ago, Calvin Coolidge reportedly coined that storied, pregnant string of words. He was an American President, not a tiny plenipotentiary. In more recent times, Ronald Reagan and that unmentionable brother who came before the present White House occupant, had also signaled American business as the central focuses, thrusts, and priorities of their presidencies.
As someone (an American) who has personally benefited from American business pursuits, I understand the stance of the American Government, as channeled by Her Excellency re sanctity of contract. As a Guyanese discerning immediately the significance of this very firm and public American posture on the 2016 contract, it is at times like these that second thoughts about my American status rush to the fore. For Ambassador Lynch also made clear some other elements long favoured by the White
House and State Department. It is for the returns from the same odious legal institution, this contract that I equate to slavery, be spread across the length and breadth of Guyana, so that all citizens benefit, and experience the delights of being oil producers of the top shelf variety. It is all encircled by one word: inclusivity.
America applauds the PPP Government for surrendering to the hallowed provisions of the contract. Because, as it stands in its entirely, it is more than magnanimous to impoverished Guyana, bottom-of-the-barrel Guyanese. Because second, there is more than enough in that putrid contract that can benefit all Guyanese whose lives would be made better, once authentic and comprehensive
inclusivity is made into the middle pillar of the government’s honest visions and proven practices. Because third, what I heard unsaid by Ambassador Lynch reminded of an eerie echo of decades ago. It was following the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, India. When Indians were fighting for more, an American shareholder (a woman, no less) response was -why? What they were getting was already more than good enough.
I will be bold and put words in Ambassador Lynch’s mouth; she should appreciate that it is the lot of messengers for their kings and princes of yore. As interpreted by me in this fresh American declaration of intent: why more? As it stands, the contract gives enough. And, here is the one to the solar plexus: what are Guyanese going to do with more from the contract? Clearly, there is trouble managing what is coming to hand currently, imagine the stresses and challenges to deal with what is being clamored for in other Guyanese corners and quarters.
What I read even more troublingly is that the U.S. Government just signaled to the PPP Government of Guyana is that once it sticks to the 2016 contract as it currently stands, then America has its back. This is gunboat diplomacy without the gunboats. Or, so I believe. The American package is simply too neat, too well-ribboned. The most attractively sparkling ribbon is that throwaway line, maybe even a punchline, about inclusivity. Give to every Guyanese, as the untouched contract affords, and there is no need for concerns, tensions, and differences. From any Guyanese source. Obviously, America has made Guyana’s standing by the contract (as is), and government’s spreading of the wealth, to be the lynchpins of its Guyana strategy and posture. Something whispers to me that this is a half-baked egg, one more on the uncooked side. It will take some strong and accommodating Guyanese stomachs to digest this.
My closing thoughts are these. Guyanese are now getting American value for their democracy. Since we lack the sagacity and skill to deal with each other, American conclusions about what is free and fair, now possess all the strains of a lush political magnum opus. First, it was elections. Today, it is this fair contract. America missed theocracy in Persia; it could miss creole obstinacy in Guyana. Note carefully: obstinacy, not the revolutionary.