…calls on all parties to help save Guyana by entering into dialogue
WITH Guyana on the cusp of becoming a major oil producer at a time when Venezuela, its neighbour to the west, continues to experience a decade-long socio-economic and political crisis, it is important for some to effect regime change in Guyana, so as to have direct control over the country’s petroleum resources and effectively infiltrate the Spanish-speaking nation.
For Political Scientist Dr. David Hinds, the “plot” to remove the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) administration may have been hatched approximately two to three years following the discovery of oil in Guyana. In fact, Guyana’s first oil find was made in May, 2015 by U.S oil giant ExxonMobil, just days after the 2015 General and Regional Elections, in which the APNU+AFC had effectively brought the People’s Progressive Party/Civic’s (PPP/C’s) 23-year reign in office to an end.
To date, ExxonMobil has recorded a total of 16 oil discoveries offshore Guyana in the Stabroek Block. Based on those discoveries, there are approximately eight billion oil-equivalent barrels in the Stabroek Block.
Just five years into office, it would appear that forces locally and internationally want the APNU+AFC administration out of office at a time when Guyana is expected to experience unprecedented development. The relentless push to remove the APNU+AFC government, Dr. Hinds said, is not necessarily linked to any ills committed against society, since there are none or the “undermining of democracy,” but because with David Granger as President it may be difficult for major external players to have control over Guyana’s “black gold.”
Dr. Hinds, while pointing to the 1960s, said “geopolitics” is among factors linked to the highly controversial March 2020 elections here in Guyana.
“What is happening to Guyana is part of the Resource Curse. It is normal for small countries to become victims of their own success once their interests do not fit into the agenda of global powerhouses. Politics are [sic] usually used as the clearing house for larger economic and geopolitical interests,” Dr. Hinds told this newspaper.
He added: “No small country with the amount of oil that Guyana has will be left alone by the big countries. Big countries operate from a feeling that small countries like Guyana do not have the capacity to deal with that amount of wealth and that they the larger countries have that capacity. So, they are treating it not as Guyana’s potential wealth, they are treating it as their potential wealth, their source of accumulation of wealth and prosperity.”
According to him, that is the source of the uneven economic development visible in the world today. He noted that these major powerhouses think it is their interest to determine who governs Guyana. “They would want a party in government that they are better able to control, and this is the crux of the matter,” he posited.
In addition to oil, he posited that countries such as the U..S have a keen interest in in Guyana’s western neighbour Venezuela, which has been dubbed “a pariah state.”
“We are here again, where Guyana is now caught in the middle of geopolitics which include the larger countries, such as America, Canada and Britain and the rest of Europe. We are caught in between the western powers and Venezuela” the political scientist said.
He believes that in an effort to thwart the will of the Guyanese people, a plot was hatched to get the Bharrat Jagdeo-led PPP/C back in government. “I am of the firm opinion that this plot has been going on for two-three years. The coalition was busy governing [and] it seems not to have been aware that there was this plot to impose regime change. The plot is to manipulate Guyana’s vulnerable electoral architecture to install one political force over the other,” Dr. Hinds said.
Just recently, in June, 2020, Brittany Kaiser – a Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower disclosed how Cambridge Analytica was contracted by the PPP/C in 2013 to control the course of elections in its favour.
Cambridge Analytica is a data-marketing firm that uses data to change audience behaviour. It has been exposed internationally for its practices of data harvesting from tens of millions of Facebook users — in some cases, private messages. The data is then used to identify target voter groups with designed, targeted messages to influence opinion.
The former Cambridge Analytica Programme Development Director said the then PPP/C President, Donald Ramotar, paid Analytica G$80M for its services for the manipulation of data.
According to Kaiser, Cambridge Analytica, on behalf of the PPP/C, executed a behavioural poll and a Target Audience Analysis (TAA), which in other words, is large-scale national research which includes qualitative and quantitative studies and surveys so as to understand as much as possible from the population – from their politics to their culture to their affiliations and decision-making patterns.
Kaiser said that the PPP/C used the information for its advertisement and communication strategies and had a satellite team both in-country and internationally from the London Headquarters.
“Not all countries actually allow political support from abroad or even political support from foreigners, so it’s usually a satellite team that can be hidden in-country and is not obvious to the opposition that foreign assistance is active,” the whistleblower had explained during her appearance on The Red Line Podcast.
However, even with Cambridge Analytica’s assistance, the PPP/C lost the elections in 2015. But the party regrouped and months after moving a no-confidence motion against the Granger administration, it contracted Mercury Public Affairs — an American firm – in March 2019.
The firm was embroiled in the probe into alleged Russian interference in U.S. elections but was nonetheless hired by the PPP/C to help run its elections campaign. At the time, Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, described the move to hire Mercury Public Affairs as “proactive.” Jagdeo, the head of the PPP/C, has acknowledged that the firm was contracted for G$34M to lobby U.S. support for his party.
It is believed that between Cambridge Analytica and Mercury Public Affairs, the PPP/C not only successfully acquired mass regional and international support, but also utilised the data garnered to facilitate voter impersonation.
While elections in Guyana were dubbed “free and fair” when thousands of Guyanese went to the polls on March 2, 2020, it quickly descended in chaos following allegations of fraud levelled against the Region Four Returning Office Clairmont Mingo. The electoral dispute, which sparked a series of court actions first initiated by the PPP/C, resulted in a national recount – the first of its kind in Guyana – following international pressure.
It has been alleged that Mingo had inflated the numbers in favour of the APNU+AFC, and while the national recount conducted in May-June showed a variation in the numbers declared by Mingo and those tabulated at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), the recount also unearthed widespread irregularities, and thousands of cases of voter impersonation, particularly in PPP/C strongholds.
Notably, prior to the 2020 elections, APNU+AFC had lobbied the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to generate a new National Register of Registrant Database (NRRDB), on the grounds that it had an overwhelming number of persons who have either died or had migrated, but the PPP/C had objected. It is from the NRRDB that the Official List of Electors is extracted and Guyana went into the Elections with a bloated list.
However, notwithstanding the fact that the recount exercise, which was observed by a high-level Caribbean Community (CARICOM) delegation, unearthed an overwhelming number of irregularities and cases of voter impersonation – some of the world’s major players – the U.S, Canada, United Kingdom, the European Union, the Organisation of American State (OAS), the Commonwealth, the Carter Centre and even CARICOM have come out in support of the PPP/C, saying that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) should declare the results of the elections based on the recount.
“These are forces that have come together in a systematic manner. It is not every day that a mini-state like Guyana attracts the attention of all those international forces, all those international organisations– that doesn’t happen by accident. So the fact that elections are taking this length of time to arrive at an outcome says that these are more than normal elections; it says that the plans to use the electoral process to install a winner has it a brick wall. Hence, the resort to other means such as sanctions” Dr. Hinds reasoned.
The resort to the court by a Tucville, Georgetown voter, Misenga Jones, challenging the legality and constitutionality of Order No. 60, which was used to facilitate the national recount, was met with sanctions being imposed on Guyana by the U.S.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced that visa restrictions will be placed on individuals “responsible for or complicit in undermining democracy in Guyana.”
“Today I’m announcing visa restrictions on individuals responsible for or complicit in undermining democracy in Guyana. Immediate family members of such persons may also be subject to restrictions. The Granger government must respect the results of democratic elections and step aside,” the U.S. Secretary of State said on July 15.
His announcement, however, was made although the elections commission has not to date declared the results of the March 2 elections. Article 92 of the Constitution of Guyana states that, “a person assuming the office of the President in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution shall, unless his office sooner becomes vacant under Article 178, continues in office until the person elected to the office of the President at the next election held under Article 91 assumes office.”
President Granger has long stated that he like the rest of Guyana, has little choice but to await a formal declaration of the results by the Chair of the Elections Commission. He has also pledged that his government will accept the results of the elections as declared, when declared.
Dr. Hinds, the threat of sanction forms part of the plot. “Since when going to the court is tantamount to undermining democracy? Everyone knows that is not the issue at hand. Remember it was the PPP that first went to court. My sense is that the longer the standoff goes on, the more the plot is being revealed. We are already learning of approaches to the government to use Guyana to broadcast to Venezuela, and the longer it goes on, more and more the plot will come out. So that is why they are trying very hard to get the coalition to say that they have lost,” the political scientist submitted.
He said it is instructive to note that the local and international forces in a relentless pursuit to remove a government that has an unblemished human rights record. “No political activist opposed to the government has been locked up, no political opponent has been assassinated; extra-judicial killings has [sic] been eliminated; Guyana has had an unblemished human rights record. So they are actually saying that the most democratic government in Guyana’s post-colonial history is “undemocratic,” he posited.
The political scientist warned that should there be a declaration of the elections result by GECOM, Guyana will suffer tremendously regardless of the party elected to office. The political parties, he posited, must put Guyana first. “I think that this thing it is becoming a stalemate, one side is depending on the court to make its case, the other side is depending on external forces to put it in power. I think in the end, Guyana will suffer. I am going to appeal to the two political leaders to say that there is a stalemate and let us come to a conclusion that includes the interest of all sides in this impasse,” he said.