Guyana Human Rights Association Responds to Imminent Visit of US Secretary of State

Guyana Must Stay Out of Venezuelan Politics

Guyana’s Human Rights Association September 12, 2020

It is being reported that the US Secretary of State is scheduled to visit Guyana between September 17th and 18th 2020. While in the normal course of events such a visit would be welcomed, the timing and circumstances of this visit by Mr. Mike Pompeo are ominous.

Rumours of an ‘October surprise’ in the form of pressure on Venezuela prior to elections in both the US and Venezuela have been intensifying for some time. Economic and military pressure along with covert operations and disinformation campaigns have been reported, involving Colombian and Brazilian military. Some form of invasion or uprising has not been ruled out, supposedly timed to impact on the US elections in a manner beneficial to President Trump.

The rumours cannot be dismissed as trivial. Last month a release from the US State Department included Guyana in a list of Caribbean and Latin American States supporting a return to democratic Government in Venezuela. No statement or other form of approval of that statement has been issued by the Government of Guyana to justify such a step by the US State Department.

Moreover Guyana, in the context of the border dispute, has studiously avoided making any statement or taking any position on the domestic political situation in Venezuela. Guyana has also continued to resist efforts in recent years to be included in the many multi-national initiatives aimed at regime change in Venezuela.

All-party unity on the Venezuelan issue has been a feature of Guyanese politics over many administrations. This tradition survived recent inter-party tensions with the new administration retaining the services of several senior members of the previous administration in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs responsible for negotiation on the border issue.

Against this background the inclusion of Guyana’s name in the State Department list of countries supposedly calling for democratic change poses serious problems. Aligning Guyana with those seeking regime change not only threatens Guyana’s legal negotiations over the border, but it would also be politically absurd, since the current US candidate to replace the incumbent President of Venezuela is among the leaders of those supporting the illegal claim on Guyana’s territory.

Self-determination of Guyana as a State is a matter of fundamental human rights, as indeed, is that of Venezuela. Moreover, Guyana’s response to the influx of Venezuelan refugees in recent years has conformed with all the appropriate international humanitarian standards. Despite Guyana’s limited economic and social resources, refugees have accessed health services and schooling for children.

Against this background, it is incumbent on Guyana to avoid any recklessness devised to interfere with electoral matters. Any attempt to entangle Guyana in other political initiatives which undermine Guyana’s position on the border dispute must not be entertained under any circumstances.

The Government of Guyana ought to make public, well in advance of the visit, what are the non-negotiable elements with respect to Venezuela.

Guyana’s Human Rights Association September 12, 2020
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