…as Pompeo pledges US$5M in assistance for displaced Venezuelans in Guyana
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrapped up his official visit to Guyana by announcing that his country’s Government is committing US$5 million to assist Venezuelans, who have fled to Guyana as a result of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the South American nation.
He made the commitment on Friday at a joint press conference with President Mohamed Irfaan Ali on Friday at State House in Georgetown.
Venezuela has been experiencing deep financial, economic and social crises for several years now, and has seen millions of its citizens fleeing the country. In fact, Guyana has taken in thousands of Venezuelan migrants.
According to Pompeo, in the same way that he was glad to support the fight for democracy to prevail in Guyana, he is prepared to fight to have the will of the Venezuelan people respected. He noted that during his meetings with President Ali, the need for democracy in Venezuela was discussed as well as an end to the “illegitimate” Nicholas Maduro Administration.
The Secretary of State noted that Guyana has been a strong partner for the United States when it comes to addressing issues with Venezuela by supporting statements from both the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the Lima Group.
“The United States has now allocated $5 million to help Venezuelans in Guyana who have had to flee from Venezuela to Guyana to escape the horrors and brutality of the Maduro regime. I trust that that cooperation will continue and I want to express my personal appreciation for Guyana’s hosting the Venezuelans that have crossed inside of your country,” Pompeo said.
When asked, in a subsequent interview, to respond to suggestions that his visit is intended to antagonise the Maduro Administration, Pompeo explained that he was sent to Guyana to talk about all the opportunities there are for the United States to invest and help build better lives for the people of Guyana.
He further added that the same is wanted for the Venezuelans.
“We want them to have the very same chance to have a free, fair election, for the rule of law, for democracy, and for human rights in Venezuela. We watch people fleeing – fleeing into Guyana, fleeing into Colombia, fleeing into Peru, Ecuador, people having to flee from Maduro and his brutal regime. We very much want that to change. We want them to have the same opportunities that the people of Guyana have. That’s why we came down here today, to help make sure that the new leadership here in Guyana understood that the United States was a friendly nation with good intentions for them,” Pompeo told the State’s National Communications Network (NCN).
Meanwhile, President Ali reported that Guyana remains committed to the principles that guide its involvement in the Lima Group, particularly the concern about the ongoing and protracted humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.
“We support and respect the need for free and fair elections in our hemisphere. With urgency, we believe the democratic values and principles should be respected in Venezuela as well,” the President noted.
Ali went on to express gratitude to the United States for its support for Guyana’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and its call for a timely resolution to the controversy with Venezuela and respect for the 1899 Arbitral Award.
The United States has been adamant that the Maduro Administration is a fraudulent one. In fact, the US and a number of other international bodies, as well as countries, have recognised Juan Guaido as the President of Venezuela.
Guyana is one of the countries in the Lima Group that has recognised the presidency of Guaido.
The US, earlier this year, charged Maduro and other top officials in his Government for narco-terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering and corruption. It accused Maduro and his top aides of running a “narco-terrorism partnership with the Farc for the past 20 years”. The Farc is a Colombian rebel group.
On that end, Secretary Pompeo reiterated that Maduro is a drug trafficker and as such he must leave office.
“This is the objective: We want democracy and freedom and the rule of law. Just in the same way we fought for you all to achieve that for yourselves, we want to fight for that to be achieved by the people of Venezuela as well,” he noted.
Maritime Patrol Pact
In addition to the various areas of cooperation, Guyana also entered a maritime patrol pact with the United States to guard against narcotics and other regional security threats. President Ali said he is pleased with the commitment to deepen cooperation in the area of security with the global superpower that is the United States.
He noted that the maritime pact will see joint patrols to interdict narcotics trafficking. The President also noted that it would allow for the improvement of technical and human capabilities in monitoring Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
That move, he noted, augurs well for stronger collaboration and broader technical assistance to help combat both domestic and transnational organised criminal networks.
“In relation to our Exclusive Economic Zone, it is not only from a maritime perspective, because we would have raised also with the Secretary, radar coverage of our Exclusive Economic Zone, which is critical at this time. We have had various difficulties and I think we welcome any help that would enhance our security, that would enhance our ability to protect our borders, and importantly, enhance our capability and ability to ensure that we go after criminal elements. And this allows us to do that. It strengthens our capacity and it builds that partnership and gives us that additional capacity that is so needed,” President Ali said.
Meanwhile, Pompeo noted that the new security agreement to counter narcotics trafficking, something that has decimated so many nations all across the world, will enter into force on Monday. He said that the pact will make the entire region and Guyana even safer.
“Greater security, greater capacity, to understand your border space, what’s happening inside your Exclusive Economic Zone – those are all things that give Guyana sovereignty, the capacity to control its space and the rule of law, property rights, the things that you all value in democracy, those – these things are connected,” he said.
The US official said that his visit is intended to see increased support and increased efforts between the US and the other nations.
Speaking to the importance of the Maritime Patrol Pact, Pompeo said that the United States is committed to working with partners, both separately and through multilateral institutions, to do everything to reduce the risks to the people from the threats of arms trafficking, narcotics trafficking, and all the criminal elements that come alongside it.
The signing of this pact for maritime patrol comes on the heels of increasing attacks from Venezuela across the border in riverine areas. Only recently, several officers attached to the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) came under fire while conducting inspection along the Cuyuni River. It is suspected that the shots were fired from the notorious syndicato gang from Venezuela.
In fact, Regional Commander Dion Moore had explained that such incidents have been occurring for some time now. Fortunately, no one has ever been injured to date. (G2)