Without Lynch, Guyana would have been an authoritarian state, worse off than it was under Burnham

Dear Editor,

CONTRARY to what commentator GHK Lall penned (May 19) in another newspaper, U.S. Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah Lynch, will have a lasting legacy regarding her role in saving Guyana’s democracy. Lall’s conclusions on Lynch’s legacy in Guyana is not in sync with most Guyanese. Almost every Guyanese I conversed with has praised her work in Guyana. Only a handful of Guyanese in Guyana and a few in the diaspora are upset with her role in saving democracy (free and fair elections), because it meant their party would be ejected from office.

She has a near 100 per cent approval rating among Indians, Portuguese, Chinese and Amerindians. Some supporters of APNU are not pleased with her involvement in protecting democracy that led to the ouster of the party they support. That is understandable! Riggers would always be opposed to champions of free and fair elections.

GHK sought to compare the U.S.’s poor record in introducing democracy in Iraq with its role in protecting democracy in Guyana. One can’t objectively (or appropriately) compare former Ambassador Paul Bremer’s record in Iraq with that of Ms. Lynch’s in Guyana – two different societies with different histories, though somewhat similar ethnic conflicts and authoritarian rule with a horrible fascist, racist dictator in the form of Forbes Burnham and Saddam Hussein. There was chaos and instability in Iraq when Bremer arrived and tried to impose a democratic order; the verdict on democracy is still to be delivered, given the sectarian conflict. Ambassador Lynch saved democracy in Guyana.

Bremer made a lot of mistakes after being sent to democratise a country with no history of democracy or good governance. He did not understand the country. He was isolated in Baghdad seeking to protect a diplomatic security zone as though that was all of Iraq. Ambassador Lynch does not consider Georgetown as all of Guyana. She has travelled all over the country.

She interacts with every party and leaders of influential organisations and businesses. Lynch is institutionalising a western value of respect for law and democracy in a western country that is embraced by the country.  Bremer’s major blunder in Iraq was to de-Baathize Iraq. He did not pursue reconciliation after the war unlike Lynch who has sought to bring parties together. Reconciliation is always the hardest thing in any post-conflict situation and Bremer excluded the Baath party on the question of reconciliation. Lynch has understood Guyana well. She has not attempted to eviscerate any party and gives respect and recognition to all, regardless of size and influence. She has met the leaders of all parties.

It must be stressed that promoting democracy abroad has been one of the hallmarks of U.S. foreign policy. Promoting democracy abroad fosters economic development and reduces threats to people and other countries. Has it worked in Iraq? It is still an experiment. Will it work in Guyana? Yes, because conditions are different and the U.S. has strong influence in Guyana.
It is true that the U.S.’s role in promoting democracy in Guyana rang hollow during the 1960s as it sought to counter communism and toppled Cheddi Jagan from office. There was also anti-democratic intervention in 2015 to install the Coalition. Communism is not a threat to U.S. interests in Guyana. In 2015, the government was arrogant in relations with the U.S. and paid the price.

Ambassador Lynch has also been boosting trade and cultural links with and American investments in Guyana. She is also loved by almost every Guyanese.

GHK says our racial animosity has worsened. The racial divide in Guyana is not a result of the U.S. or Ms. Lynch. Race conflict predates Lynch. In fact, it predates the U.S.’s presence in Guyana.  Racial hostility will not be overcome anytime soon. That is why Ambassador Lynch is seeking to cement democratic values, so that the race issue can be resolved through democratic values. She has endorsed constitutional and electoral change so that genuine democracy can prevail. Unfortunately, APNU opposed U.S. involvement in electoral and constitutional matters.

As a Guyanese, I am so grateful that the U.S. is involved in Guyana’s affairs. Guyanese like me see her as a God send; without her presence and the involvement of Ambassadors of the BCE countries, democracy would have been hijacked.

Sarah Lynch is not known in America. But she is a household name in Guyana and the diaspora as well as around the Caribbean and by those in countries that followed the attempt to steal the elections. Guyanese, democratic loving ones like me, will remember Her Excellency for saving our democracy. Without Lynch, Guyana would have been an authoritarian state, worse off than it was under Burnham.

Yours truly,
Vishnu Bisram

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