Threat of sanctions

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THE threat of sanctions on Guyana should the 2020 elections throw up a certain outcome is very much in the air. It is being encouraged not just by hardliners in powerful global capitals, but by a vocal cadre of Guyanese with partisan axes to grind.

It is a reality that we as a country need to come to grips with. In global power relations, small countries such as Guyana are often at the mercy of the developed world on these matters. This is the way it has been for several decades, and it is not about to be changed. This publication, therefore, does not seek a fight with those countries which have hinted at sanctions.

Rather, we join in appealing for less strident rhetoric from both external and internal forces.
To begin with, it is our considered view that the threat of sanctions is tantamount to attempting to influence the outcome of an election. This may not be the intention, but this is how it will ultimately be perceived.

It is clear for all to see that we are facing a contested election. This is nothing new to Guyana; no election in recent and not-so- recent memory has thrown up results which have been readily accepted by all contestants. We make this observation to suggest that there may be an over-reaction to the post-election developments. The situation has engaged the attention of the courts, which have done an admirable job of bringing the Rule of Law to bear on the issues before them. It is better to allow the matter to come to its logical conclusion, rather than preempting the outcome with threats of sanctions.

In international relations, sanctions are a last resort. Imposing sanctions on another country is akin to a declaration of war. The penalty must fit the alleged crime. We feel that a disputed election should not be a cause for sanctions, or the threat of sanctions. Those who wish to help Guyana in its hour of need should expend their energies towards helping to foster an environment of reconciliation. The threat of sanctions on one competitor in a dispute is unhelpful to such a process.

International sanctions on a country like Guyana would have one guaranteed outcome: Hardship for sections of the population that are already vulnerable. Guyana’s economy cannot withstand the shock of sanctions. So those who are advocating such an approach are indirectly and directly supporting an economic war against the poor and working people. It would represent a direct attack on the human rights of all Guyanese; something that those who cherish humanity should raise their voices against.

Those Guyanese who, for narrow political gains, are advocating for sanctions are shortsighted. We stop short of labeling them anti-national, but would have great difficulty recognising them as profiles of courage. You simply do not invite aggression on your country to satisfy partisan ends. All Guyanese of goodwill should take a stance against such forces, and call them out for cherishing short-term political gain over the security their country.

We end with a direct appeal to our friends in the Global North. Guyana and Guyanese are survivors of centuries of domination. Hence, we hold up our independence as a reminder of the long struggle to turn back such indignities. We cherish our friendship with those who have been there for us, but we ask for respect for our collective dignity. We have the capacity to overcome our differences; we have shown that in the past. If you must intervene, then do so as agents of caution and reason, not as bearers of messages of force.