By GHK Lall
“Every time I come to a Press Conference, it is on racism, the Stabroek Block etc. There is no proper policy discussion. Every time I come, it is the same question.”Those words were uttered by Guyana’s Vice President when pressed for answers on oil developments, plans, and so forth. I share my reactions.
The VP can refuse any question. But then what do we have in him, this former president, as a leader? What do we have for a government if it retreats from the paramount issues of the day? I ask this in the context of those three words of such unequalled importance locally. I repeat the VP: “racism” and Stabroek Block.” The VP may vehemently disagree, but racism and the Stabroek Block are at the pinnacle of the interests of citizens. The first has to do with how compatible and how tolerant we are of each other’s presence, and if and when we don’t, then what do we have left to carry us forward? If we were not compatible before the gushing riches of oil, then the discovery of that precious commodity just made total enemies of us all. Regardless of the questioner, the issue of racism is a showstopper and gamechanger in Guyana. It cannot be avoided, cannot be minimized by sweeping under the carpet, and by pretending that it doesn’t exist, that all is well.
Therefore, any tabling of questions about racism in Guyana, the issue itself, rises to a more fevered pitch by its very denial by the Vice President. He should never fear it, once his government is on solid grounds, with record to match; he should not flinch nor retreat. I quietly recommend to the VP to let the questions stir and flourish so that we can honestly get to the bottom of the plague that splits us apart. Naturally, the assumption is that he can respond to such questions honestly. To cut a finer point to this, the VP doesn’t want to talk about racism, so he bowls over inquirers. My own interest is how he responds publicly (or in closed sessions) to the consistent mentioning of INCLUSION by US Ambassador Sarah Ann Lynch, and others of the highest standing from her country.
Surely, he is not going to shut her down! Because she persists, it can be interpreted that there is a racial gap, considerably so. It involves many things, but mostly this ballooning oil patrimony. I hear share it more equitably. For this to happen, we have to get more. This introduces the Stabroek Block. More from the same loaded Stabroek Block that others have made their priority, and of which the VP himself has denounced the Coalition’s handiwork as repulsive, a monstrous disfigurement of Guyana. Now, it is his turn to right in little steps all the wrongs inflicted on Guyana via the 2016 contract with Exxon. The VP himself said it was bad; it is his opportunity to do good.
He has his new draft PSA, but clearly it doesn’t apply to the oil-swamped Stabroek Block, if I read the VP accurately. The VP had golden openings before in the third and fourth oil projects, but for his own reasons let both pass untouched. Now, there is the fifth project to be closed out in weeks, and he shrinks from doing his duty by Guyanese. Meaning, he must cultivate the courage and the use Uaru as leverage and make it the steppingstone for the sixth one (and the others) waiting in line. What he would be asking for Guyanese is reasonable, eminently fair: money, as in 10% royalty and 10% taxes, plus the rest in his new PSA. It is not an arm and a leg, and Exxon still makes money by the tanker load from Guyana.
When the VP balks from doing this, lashes out bullyingly at interrogators, he subjects himself to suspicions and conclusions much worse than those already harbored about him, his leadership, his standards. In effect, he would stand for nothing since he reduces himself to swallowing his own words about the vile essences of the Coalition’s criminal contract. His record speaks to this, not I. If it was so treasonous, such a revulsion then (and it was), what makes it wholesome now? So, when the VP recoils in horror and full body trembling from speaking to, addressing, and making Guyanese aware of his objectives for instance, with reference to the Stabroek Block, it doesn’t go away, but only generates more interest, more misgivings, and more distrust regarding how much he may be up to his neck in, and where this leaves all of Guyana. It is wiser for the VP to face the music (questions) than settle for the thunder of much sound and fury, which makes him look smaller, and lesser in many more areas, things.
GHK Lall is a Guyanese well read author. Energiesnet.com does not necessarily share these views.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Kaieteur, on December 16, 2022. All comments posted and published on EnergiesNet.com, do not reflect either for or against the opinion expressed in the comment as an endorsement of EnergiesNet.com or Petroleumworld.
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EnergiesNet.com 12 19 2022