US Security Advisor reaffirms “unwavering support” for Guyana’s sovereignty

– during talks with Pres Ali on regional security, stability

President Dr Irfaan Ali on Wednesday engaged in discussions on regional security in a telephone conversation with the United States’ Principal Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer. According to a readout from the White House, the two officials spoke on the phone to “discuss regional security and stability”, talked about ways to deepen the bilateral relationship between Guyana and the US, and discussed other shared priorities, including energy security and climate change.
During that phone call, Finer reaffirmed the United States’ “unwavering support” for Guyana’s sovereignty in light of threats from neighbouring Venezuela, which is laying claim to the Essequibo, two-thirds of Guyana’s landmass, and to a portion of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) where oil production and exploration activities are being conducted.

President Dr Irfaan Ali and US Principal Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer during a meeting at State House in Georgetown back in February

The US Security official also commended President Ali’s leadership as the current Chair of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
In speaking about regional security, both President Ali and Finer reiterated the importance of urgently increasing international support for Haitian-led efforts and the Multinational Security Support Mission to help Haitians restore security and pave the way toward free and fair elections in Haiti.
Tuesday’s phone call between the two officials followed Finer’s visit to Guyana back in February as part of efforts to continue US cooperation with regional partners on issues of mutual interest, including democratic governance, economic stability, and regional security. During that one-day visit to Georgetown, Finer, who was accompanied by the National Security Council’s Senior Director for the Western Hemisphere, Juan González, had met with President Ali and senior security officials in the Guyana Government.
According to a brief statement on the President’s social media page following that meeting, the discussions focused on areas of mutual interest between Guyana, Caricom and the US.
“Issues of democratic governance, economic stability, regional security, and other pressing hemispheric matters were discussed,” the post detailed.
US Ambassador Nicole Theriot; Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Mark Wells; and National Security Council Senior Advisor Laura Updegrove were among the US officials present during that February 4 meeting.
President Ali had been joined by Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud; Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Brigadier Omar Khan; and National Security Advisor Captain Gerry Gouveia, along with GDF Colonel Sheldon Howell and former Army Chief Brigadier (retired) Godfrey Bess.
That visit by the two senior security officials was one of a series of similar engagements between the Governments of Guyana and the United States in recent months. In January alone, there were two high-level visits of US officials to Guyana. On January 9, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for the Western Hemisphere at the US Department of Defence, Daniel Erikson, was in Georgetown to meet with President Ali and other officials, including the GDF Chief of Staff. Their discussions were based on areas of mutual interest, including regional security, food security, climate change, information sharing, narcotics monitoring, and disaster risk management.
Days prior, former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was also in Guyana, and had met with President Ali. Pompeo had first visited Guyana in September 2020.
Then in February, the US Representative to the United Nations and Cabinet Member, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, travelled to Georgetown for a two-day visit, to lead the United States Delegation to the 46th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Government of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) that was held in Guyana. Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Brian Nichols, was also part of that delegation.
In March, the Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency, William J. Burns, was in Georgetown for one day, during which he had held meetings with officials of the Guyana Government.
Following Burns’s visit last month, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro had accused Guyana of partnering with the CIA and the Southern Command – both US security agencies – to establish secret military bases here to attack Tumeremo, which is the supposed capital of a new state that Venezuela is purporting to establish with Guyana’s Essequibo territory.
On April 3, Maduro promulgated “the Organic Law for the Defense of Guayana Esequiba”, thus effectively claiming the Essequibo as a state within Venezuela – a move that has been condemned by the Guyana Government and several regional and international bodies.
Guyana has, on several occasions, denied partnering with the US or any other country to be an aggressor against Venezuela. Meanwhile, the US Government has denied that it has already established, or has plans to set up, a secret military base in Guyana. White House National Security Communications Adviser Admiral John Kirby told reporters at a press briefing on April 4, “There are no plans for a secret military base [in Guyana].”
“And we’ve said many times that there’s an 1899 Arbitral ruling about the border between Guyana and Venezuela, and we want both sides to respect that ruling, and to do it peacefully,” the White House official had added in response to a question about the US support for Guyana in defending its sovereignty. (G-8)