By Sase Singh; MSc – Finance, ACCA
Major political developments are happening in Venezuela, our western neighbour. The democratically-elected National Assembly President Juan Guaidó took an oath to become Venezuela’s interim President with the full backing of most of the powerful nations in the Western hemisphere. What was surprising to me was how rapidly the number of countries in Latin America lined up to support the interim President. Even the usually even-tempered Canada was one of the first nations to reject the de-facto strongman Nicholás Muduro. Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland issued a statement saying Canada supports Guaido’s “commitment to lead Venezuela to free and fair presidential elections, as prescribed by that country’s Constitution. Within hours of that statement from Canada, some 20 other democracies, including the majority of Latin American nations, offered their support to the interim President. Other governments even went so far to warn Senor Maduro that he must make way for democratic elections.
What is clear to me is that the “beginning of the end” phase for Senor Muduro has commenced. The powerful nations of the world are taking action. England and many other countries have frozen all assets of the Venezuelan Government and the leading players in the military and Government and the US Government has gone so far as to provide access to Venezuelan Government accounts at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to the interim President. Senor Muduro’s goose is being cooked slowly but surely as the grip tighten on his de facto regime.
Unfortunately, in the political process, the ordinary Venezuelans are experiencing what countless others have suffered in other counties like Zimbabwe, Turkmenistan, Syria, Sudan, North Korea, Burundi, Chad, Equatorial Guinea Gabon, and so on. The Venezuelans are suffering from political repression that some three billion people of the world are still experiencing. After March 21, 2019, if Guyana does not benefit from free and fair elections, it can be classified internationally as an undemocratic nation, just like Venezuela, unless an agreement is struck with the Opposition to extend that date.
History has proven that in repressive regimes, the only certain outcome is destitution and poverty of the people, which leads to anger, which is never good for any society. Is this the legacy President David Granger wants to be remembered by 20 years from now when his name is mentioned? Does he want to be the man who threw away democracy in Guyana?
The US has promised the Guaidó Government US$20 million in humanitarian assistance, but will it come with the tools of rebellion to help the people liberate themselves from these State-sponsored acts of under-development. In Venezuela, liberation is vitally needed from this now failed Chavisimo revolution. This was not what the late Hugo Chávez, with the help of friends from Cuba, was planning. Their plan made major inroads into attacking their high infant-mortality rates, and malnutrition. But since the death of Senor Chávez, basics like running water, electricity and toilet paper are now luxuries. Today under Senor Muduro, Venezuela suffers from hyperinflation, disease and rampant crime and corruption.
Many in the Venezuelan military are using State facilities and equipment to facilitate the drug trade on a national scale and this can offer an explanation why the higher up in the military are prepared to back an intellectually and policy bankrupt Senor Muduro. Today millions of hungry, jobless Venezuelans have fled their homeland, hundreds of whom now live in Guyana. In such hopelessness, the United States must step up and act by guaranteeing the military high command safe passage out of the country in order to disarm the regime. Without his Generals, Senor Muduro is nothing.
Where does Guyana stand in all of this? It is unfortunate that the Granger Government continues to holdout with Mexico in not endorsing Senor Guaido’s as the interim President. This policy has put it at a distance from the majority of Latin America and the so-called 14-nation Lima Group. This foreign policy position also puts Guyana apart from the United States, a nation that President Granger continues to rely on as a potential partner to help him defuse this growing crisis around the legitimacy of his own Government. It is clear that Guyana has not applied its collective mind adequately to this matter of international importance and our position can end up hurting the national interest in the long run. This is what you get when you have an intellectually bankrupt, aloof and unavailable Head of State.
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