A Guyanese opposition legislator on Monday questioned the timing of the visit of the United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo to Guyana this week, saying Georgetown should not compromise its position regarding the border dispute with Venezuela.
“There had been too much progress made in the last five years as we took our case to the International Court of Justice seeking a peaceful solution and it will be a travesty of monumental and epic proportions if we, Mr. Speaker, found ourselves in a hot mess and threatened,” chairman of the Alliance for Change (AFC), Raphel Troman, told Parliament.
Pompeo is due to pay a two-day visit Georgetown from Thursday and Trotman, has cautioned against Guyana becoming enjoined in an unhelpful and unholy agenda that is meant to boost the electoral prospects elsewhere later in the year.
Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon has already indicated that he intends to table a question in the National Assembly regarding Pompeo’s visit.
Pompeo had been critical of the David Granger administration following the disputed March 2 regional and general elections and Washington had threatened to impose stiffer sanctions on the government and other officials if the figures from the national vote recount had not been used to determine and declare the results of the polls.
Granger had said that in April, his administration had turned down a request from Washington to relay the Voice of America (VOA) radio broadcasts to Venezuela, which is preparing to hold elections.
The United States has called for the removal of Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro from office, supporting the Opposition leader Juan Guaido. But Maduro has the backing of China, Russia and Cuba.
The Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) is urging the Irfaan Ali government “to make public, well in advance of the visit, what are the non-negotiable elements with respect to Venezuela” and “avoid any recklessness devised to interfere with electoral matters.”
The GHRA said that Guyana has in the context of the border controversy with Venezuela, has studiously avoided making any statement or taking any position on the domestic political situation in Caracas, adding “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.
“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,” it said, while adding that 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.
The GHRA said that 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… the inclusion of Guyana’s name in the State Department list of countries supposedly calling for democratic change [therefore] poses serious problems,” it noted.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Natural Resources Vickram Bharrat says Pompeo’s visit this week is in no way tied to permits being processed for the US oil giant, ExxonMobil, bid to be involved in the Payara oil well.
He insists that the US oil giant must meet the necessary requirements and environmental standards before any approval is granted.
Bharrat said that teams from both government and ExxonMobil are to meet soon to discuss outstanding issues relating to the project as environmental matters such as flaring, water dumping along with overlapping legal terms from the Liza-1 project remain outstanding.