No to gun-boat diplomacy!!!

THE NEW TODAY salutes the Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago, Kamla Persad-Bissesar for taking the lead among the leaders of member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and voicing her full support for Guyana in its current border dispute with neighbouring Venezuela.

The Trinidad leader did not have to wait on a summit of Heads of government of the community and the putting out of a joint communique to outline the region’s collective position on the Guyana/Venezuela situation.

Persad-Bissessar demonstrated real leadership by putting up her hand and expressing solidarity and support for Guyana against the bullying acts of the rulers in Caracas.

Several of the other leaders remained silent on the issue for weeks and choose to wait on the Barbados summit to put out a joint statement pledging support for Guyana.

This newspaper suspects that several of the Prime Ministers within the community do not want to damage their relationship with Venezuela and are rather cautious in making individual statements to outline their own individual government’s position on the Guyana-Venezuela impasse.

Two leaders in particular – Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica and Dr. Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent & The Grenadines – are strong supporters of the present rulers in the Spanish-speaking nation and are major beneficiaries of assistance from the oil-rich nation.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell in Grenada is beginning to get some kind of assistance from the Venezuelans and this might mainly be due to the alliance existing between the so-called proponents of “Project Grenada” and the ruling circles in Caracas.

The records will show that under the 2003-08 New National Party (NNP) government of Dr. Mitchell that the Venezuelans did not deliver on their many aid promises to St. George’s.

There is documentary evidence in which the Grenadian leader complained to the United States that his Vincentian counterpart Dr. Gonsalves did a dirty job on him with the Venezuelans to the point that the promised financial and economic assistance from the late Hugo Chavez did not materialise.

This newspaper is not aware of anything that might have changed significantly and substantially for the Venezuelans to see PM Mitchell in a different light.

The “Project Grenada” component of the new alliance with the NNP especially with former Congress member, Peter David might largely be responsible for the assistance coming into Grenada by Venezuela and not any liking for the Grenadian leader who can be all over the place diplomatically.

Dr. Mitchell will never be seen as a “favoured” and “trusted” regional leader by the powers-that-be in Venezuela after spilling his guts to the Americans on Dr. Gonsalves and other regional leaders who are enjoying much better relations with Caracas.

It is the view of THE NEW TODAY that some of our leaders have been compromised because of their need to benefit from the cheap oil and gas offered by Venezuela on low-interest credit to keep their political chances and economies afloat.

It is extremely difficult to see any of the so-called “compromised leaders” like Gonsalves and Skerritt making separate and independent statements like that done by Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar in which she voiced her government’s total support for Guyana in this open act of aggression and hostility by the Venezuelans.

This paper calls on PM Mitchell, NDC’s Nazim Burke, Peter David and Chester Humphrey to openly state their positions on the current Guyana/Venezuela situation. There should be no ducking and hiding – let your voices be heard.

THE NEW TODAY fully supports Guyana and calls on Venezuela to allow the waters of the Caribbean to remain a zone of peace and do not think for one moment of engaging in any gun-boat diplomacy in this part of the world.

Guyana is crucial and critical to the overall development of the rest of the English-speaking Caribbean.

The recent oil and gas find in the area now being claimed by Venezuela has the potential to turn around the Guyana economy and this will be a win-win situation for all member States of CARICOM.

A prosperous Guyana will provide jobs and other opportunities for the peoples of the Caribbean similar to what the Panama Canal did to our fore-parents many years ago.

The doors to the United States, Britain, Canada and other major Western industrialised countries are increasingly closing to our people and the opportunities for our people to go abroad and earn decent salaries to send back home in the form of remittances are now very, very limited.

Our people have to start looking more at home for their well-being and survival and a strong and vibrant Guyana could become the real silver lining for all of us in this region.

If Venezuela chooses to engage in acts of hostility against Guyana, the NEW TODAY will have no choice but to agree with the words spoken many decades ago by late Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister, historian and scholar, Dr. Eric Williams that Caracas has hegemonic designs on the Caribbean.

Venezuela’s claim to Bird Island – just off Dominica is a clear manifestation of the thinking of the political and military leaders in that Spanish-speaking country.

How many of our leaders can tell Caracas straight to the face that if you touch Guyana you touch the entire English-speaking Caribbean?

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