US Congressman urges key colleagues to keep Guyana from falling off democracy pathway
…says loss of democracy in Guyana could impact regional stability
…writes congressional foreign affairs committees
A United States (US) Congressman Vincente Gonzalez who heads a key committee has written to two senior colleagues who head a committee and subcommittee in the US Congress, urging them to keep Guyana on the path of democracy, even as the country meanders on several months overdue for elections.
In the letter which was seen by this publication, US Congressman Vincente Gonzalez, a representative of the 15th District of Texas, wrote to Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Eliot Engel and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security and Trade, Albio Sires.
Gonzalez warned in his letter that a loss of democracy in Guyana could have disastrous effects on regional stability. He also said that as the US has worked to bring democracy around the world, Guyana should be no exception.
“The United States has maintained a friendly relationship with Guyana since 1992, after then Guyanese President Desmond Hoyte decided to reform the country’s electoral laws and held free and fair elections. Any reversal of these efforts could impact regional stability and endanger the well-being of the Guyanese people.”
“I request that the Committee continue to keep a watchful eye on Guyana moving forward. It is imperative that we continue to bring democracy (globally) and Guyana is no exception. I am available to work with you and the Committee on legislation for the betterment of the Guyanese people,” Gonzalez also wrote.
The Congressman pointed out in his letter that President David Granger lost a no-confidence vote in December 2018 and that after six months of legal challenges, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) unanimously upheld the no-confidence vote.
He noted that even though the regional court had recognised that elections should have been held by March 21, 2019, the Guyana Elections Commission had insisted on preparing for elections in a lengthy House-to-House Registration process.
“The People’s Progressive Party has requested that elections be held within 90 days of the CCJ’s June 18, 2019 ruling or September 18, 2019. CCJ’s internal counsel has advised that the House-to-House Registrations would be an act of contempt against the CCJ,” Gonzalez advised Engel and Sires in his letter.
This letter will go some way in showing that while sections of society have been critical of the diplomatic community’s silence as Guyana heads down the road of constitutional violation, events are happening behind the scenes.
When questioned in July of this year after the CCJ’s rulings, Caricom Secretary General Irwin LaRocque had sought to deny reports that Caricom has not been active enough in trying to ensure Guyana remains a democratic and not authoritative State.
“There’s a process ongoing since the no-confidence vote. The process has worked so far, in the sense that the CCJ delivered a judgement and its consequential orders. And the CCJ, in my view, was very, very clear that all the actors concerned, must play their part,” LaRocque had told the media.
“As I understand it, there continues to be dialogue among the parties. We continue to monitor everything very closely. I have met with both the President and the Leader of the Opposition on more than one occasion. Following the ruling, I’ve met the Opposition Leader and spoken to the President. So I’m in touch, I’ll continue to be in touch.”
The Secretary General had added that the Chairman of Caricom, St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris, was being briefed regularly on the situation and had reached out to leaders in Guyana. But LaRocque stayed on the side of caution as it relates to taking a more proactive role.
“We’ll continue monitoring this. We remain available to assist if we’re asked to assist. But Caricom does not interfere unless the democratic and judicial process breaks down. It doesn’t mean we don’t care. It doesn’t mean we’re not engaged. We are fully engaged,” he had stressed.
So far, the diplomatic community has not publicly renewed its position on respecting the Constitution and the CCJ’s ruling. Representatives of the United States, United Kingdom, and the European Union observed the July 12 pronouncements and later acknowledged that this adherence must be done expeditiously.