The local press is flooded with a diversity of viewpoints and commentaries from local and international experts and all sorts of agencies and important groups that have been pronouncing on this matter almost every day. Interestingly, “The Economist” magazine featured an extremely well-articulated article entitled “Oil riches raise the political stakes in Guyana”.
The nation witnessed, despite calls from the Government for the Speaker to review the outcome of the No-confidence Motion that he instead, opted to decline in doing so. The Speaker’s ruling is available in full in the local press. One may agree that this move by the Speaker was indeed very professional and also reinforced his professional integrity since over the last three years, he was often times criticised, by this author included, for appearing to be biased in the discharge of his duties as Speaker of the National Assembly.
Now, it is obvious that the Government is not going to give up power without a fight amid the notion that the country is poised to be earning oil wealth within the next year or so. However, if they are truly serious about what is good for this country then their actions are not reflective of such. Take for example in the President’s New Year’s message, if one listens carefully to that message, clearly someone is out of touch with reality. With all due respect to his Excellency, the message on that occasion was not at all reflective of the realities of the people of this country. This assertion is premised upon the 30,000 plus households who have been affected both directly and indirectly by the closure of the sugar estates. People are suffering, plunging deeper into poverty, children are being denied an education because their parents cannot afford to send them to school. This one act alone by the Government has deemed a loss of confidence in it by the people. In fact, this author in 2017 had written extensively on these issues regarding the downsizing of the sugar industry, including the social and economic impact wherein it was posited that about GY$10-$11 billion will be taken out of the economy annually with the closure of these estates and not to mention the other multiplier effects.
In fact, citing a fellow colleague who also writes for this newspaper, Sase Singh, in his ‘Straight Talk’ column featured on January 4, 2019, Singh showed that the losses incurred by the Guyana Sugar Corporation for the years 2015 and 2016, before the estates were closed, stood at $2.7 billion and $1.3 billion respectively; while for the years subsequent to the closure or what the Government often describes as right sizing the industry, the losses incurred for 2017 and 2018 stood at $18.3 billion and $12.8 billion respectively. Clearly, the Government is out of touch with reality and has little or no clue of what it is doing in terms of managing the economic and financial affairs of this country. In other words, they are living or governing in a vacuum of denial, especially now with the outcome of the No-confidence Motion.
Turning now to what is happening in Guyana domestically and in respect to recent geopolitical developments – that is, the Foreign Affairs Minister reported that the Venezuelans attempted to land a helicopter on ExxonMobil’s ship. These developments can have far-reaching detrimental consequences for Guyana and can even delay the production of oil. With Russia supporting the Venezuelans in the area of military support; especially and announced plans for setting up a military base in the Caribbean, there can be an imminent American and Russian war in our own backyard. The sad reality of such an outcome is that no American or Russian would be harmed except for the military personnel, but it is the Caribbean people, Guyana and Venezuela who will suffer.
Against this backdrop, with the judicial challenge to the No-confidence Motion, if that ruling turns out in a particular manner, then there may be a constitutional crisis and a political crisis which will lead to an economic crisis and a social crisis especially if fresh elections are not held within 90 days as stipulated by the Constitution. These events, if materialised, will inevitably weaken Guyana within these dimensions and it is when this happens that Venezuela may very well seize the opportunity to aggressively continue to threaten Guyana with the use of military force. It is no coincidence that the last aggressive move in this regard was done on the very next day after the no-confidence vote. That was a strategic move by the Venezuelans and if Guyana’s political climate becomes further weakened, the outcomes are going to be devastating. Therefore, the politicians need to do what is best for Guyana and that is, to have fresh elections in the next three months.