Derwayne

GEOPOLITICS, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND OFFENDING ‘DE WHITE MAN’ IN GUYANA

This blog entry was meant to be a Facebook status. But it was too long and needed connections. It started when I read Freddie Kissoon’s Kaieteur News February 1, 2015 column, “Do Caricom leaders prove that the white race is superior?” Duh man Freddie got me askin’ mehself nuff questions now.

Freddie wrote: “The President of Guyana prorogued the elected Parliament. A British Minister condemned it as an assault on democracy. Three white Ambassadors publicly denounced what President Ramotar did. And the EU put sanctions on Guyana. Then it was Caricom’s turn to respond. The Caricom Council of Ministers didn’t condemn this repellant denial of democracy.
The Caricom Council didn’t remain neutral. The Caricom Council in fact accepted this assault on the right to elect a Parliament by the Guyanese nation. The Caricom Council said that the President was acting within the Constitution when he did so. To date, not one Third World country has criticized the PPP Government for its suspension of Parliament.” END OF QUOTE.

Alright so Freddie is wondering why these CARICOM leaders don’t speak out. And I couldn’t agree more.

This morning I decided to read a post from the Antillean Media Group titled “Who underdeveloped Haiti?” The story was written On January 30, 2015 and spoke of Haitian President Michel Martelly refusing to hold elections for the past three years. Also bearing in mind a report in November 2014 from Foreign Policy that “Since the terms of 10 senators expired in 2012, the Senate has operated at two-thirds capacity. Haitians were supposed to vote on Oct. 26 for 20 new senators, as well as elect the entire lower house of Parliament and municipal officials around the country. If no elections take place before Jan. 12, 2015, the Haitian Constitution states that Parliament will automatically dissolve and Martelly will rule by decree.”

NOTE: Click link to see transcript of phone call between US Vice President Biden and Haitian President Martelly giving the US’s full support. 

That Antillean Media Group article also spoke of the further Americanisation of Haiti. It stated that since under neocolonial policies supported by the US, 80% of rice that Haiti consumes is imported from Foreign countries even though that country has had a booming rice industry in the past. It spoke of 50% of all food in Haiti being imported from foreign countries, mainly the United States. It spoke of how the United States, Canada and France continue to fund the MINUTSA in Haiti which is the United Nations Stabilisation Mission. It spoke of how the US last year alone provided more than US$117M in funding to an entity that is engaged in “extrajudicial killing, political repression, and widespread sexual assault.”

The MINUTSA came when the US, Canada, France and the UN helped to oust Haitian President Aristide in 2004 (for the second time) with a military coup eventually replacing him with a Leader that favoured their interests. UN Peacekeepers two years later killed many Haitians including women and children deeming them as being supporters of Aristide.

See this seven minute video:

All of this is just to shine some light on Western hypocrisy and Social Justice.  Considering what was said so far, I feel a bit shaky that we continue to put great emphasis on what the western powers say. It could be the intimidation felt by smaller countries that account for them staying silent on atrocities done in the World by Western Governments. Let’s not forget that Geopolitics is an actual thing, the UN isn’t exactly the bedrock of inclusion and equal-say and the Five Permanent Members which include the US, UK, Russia, China and France control the entire United Nations.  Similarly, when you consider the US and their Shale Revolution’s contribution to falling oil prices and what that has done to non-western aligned countries, the conversation on Geopolitics becomes all too real giving life to the politics of international economy and victimisation.

Take for example the recently concluded Energy Summit in Washington DC that had Vice President Joe Biden and Caribbean leaders gathered in one space. That summit achieved almost nothing except to tell everybody that Venezuela’s PetroCaribe is dying and they should either turn to Trinidad and Tobago or to the US that already has soooo much partners that are doing well even with the current decline in oil prices. Sir Ronald Sanders summed this up beautifully in his piece The unhelpful Geopolitics of Energy in the Caribbean. 

Guyana Mosquito, drawing from a Stabroek News article, reported this morning that the UK High Commissioner to Guyana Andrew Ayre said, as he is getting ready to depart his mission, Guyana’s Government should stop giving feral blasts to top brasses of the World. Ayre said: “Brent Hardt, my US colleague and I have received quite significant ‘blasts’ send-offs. This looks bad in Washington, it looks bad in London and I have to wonder how that promotes Guyana’s interests in two of the key five countries in the world. I would argue strongly that it does not promote Guyana’s interests in these countries and my recommendation would be that sort of behaviour ceases.”

But is why Uncle Andrew story go suh? So when is it a good time to give the UK or the US a good blast? I guess never. One of the international commandments is: Thou shalt not speak ill of the Western Governments lest thou incur the wrath of the Geopolitics at work.

Quick point, Freddie liked how the ‘white’ countries tell off Ramotar about the suspension of Parliament. And Freddie ask: “Why has the non-white leadership of the world behaved so insensitively to the denials of justice and freedom since the end of the Second World War, after the colonies became independent states?”

MY ANSWER: A lot of the “denials of justice and freedom” were done by those very same ‘white’ leaders like the UK, and France. Those very countries that are always up in arms to defend justice and so on.  Some of them, like the US, have failed to ratify basic international legislation that the rest of the World has no option but to do. Y’all think de US easy when it comes to freedoms? Ha. Edward Snowden risks being charged for treason under the espionage act, right? Ok, let’s move on.

If we were to map out the involvement of western powers in political and civil unrests that quite often see them addressing human rights violations then there is a dangerous but evident pattern. RE:  the US’s oil gluten habits and how economics is the driving force in the way it does Human rights around the world.

I read a report which said that a number of UK Universities found that “Intervention in civil wars ‘far more likely in oil-rich nations” where it was said that “Before the Isis forces approached the oil-rich Kurdish north of Iraq, Isis was barely mentioned in the news. But once Isis got near oil fields, the siege of Kobani in Syria became a headline and the US sent drones to strike Isis targets.”

That same report said in relation to the UK’s involvement in the Nigerian Civil War, “Britain intervened in the Nigerian Civil War… between 1967 and 1970. During this period the UK was one of the biggest importers of oil in the world, with North Sea oil production only starting in 1975. BP’s [British Petroleum] presence in the oil-rich eastern region of the country meant stability in the area was of critical importance.”

Let me go back to that pinnacle of truth and democracy, outgoing UK High Commissioner Andrew Ayre. I remember my first encounter with Ayre at a forum at the University of Guyana where he was talking about all the human rights violations happening in Africa. So my question had to do with why he was being selective in pointing out some conflicts while excluding others which at some point were either started, exacerbated or funded by Western powers. De man get vex wid me question and say that question does not pertain to the forum and he can’t answer it. I seh, “eh! eh!”. I thought it was legitimate.

The next time I had an encounter with him, it was when the US, UK and Canadian (ABC) diplomats held a press conference to brief the Guyana media on the Russia-Crimea situation. So all the Reporters sitting in the Chapel of the Canadian High Commission in Guyana wondering “how does this affect us?”

At that time, the Scottish Referendum was being considered which was largely centred around the right of the people to self-determination and I asked him to compare that referendum to the Crimean referendum which the US Government had denounced even before it was held.

Of course the man said to me, as a Reporter, “I can’t comment on Scotland and I won’t!” Same question asked to US Charge d’ Affaires, Bryan Hunt and he said: “The Crimean people are under Russian occupation, they don’t have the ability to express their will or to pursue their self-determination.”

This man basically told me that Russia hold a gun to the heads of the Crimean people and therefore all of them who voted to be separated from Ukraine were hostages and not sure of what they were doing. What did I do? I reported it in my story.

Pulling my thoughts together for this post, I recall another entry I made in mid-January on Youth, Activism, and the Insanity of Guyana’s ‘Talkshop’ Culture. In that blog, I tried to draw a relationship between the lack of activity by Guyanese against social injustice and them waiting on the ‘white man’ to fix their problems. Lo and behold, Freddie writes a piece now about how the white man does speak out more than the non-white man. It’s true. But sometimes it seems this is because the ‘white man’ sees himself as the master of all things and capable of fixing any problem (See statistics relating to US Foreign Aid and US Volunteers in the rest of the World) That blog had people for and against it. I wrote:

Lemme paint a relationship between the saviour complex and the apathy of Guyanese youth. It looks like the only time they can pull themselves together is when some external force, divorced from Guyana in any long term way, swoops down and tells us to get up and get moving. Even Shaw admitted that the point about people not supporting locals was something he could see happening. He said if he had that conversation in the Bronx, the response wouldn’t be as overwhelming as it was in Guyana. It’s the facts. We feel comfortable waiting on that messiah to come and tell us when we’ve had enough. Of course, my Christian brothers and sisters shouldn’t be offended because I speak of the “messiah” in a proverbial sense.” (You might actually have to read my blog to know who ‘Shaw’ is, and to get the context of which his name was used)

Now to CARICOM’s problem. CARICOM’s problem speaking out about social justice violations is more about diplomacy than it is about apathy. I like to think of diplomacy as the preservation of the status quo. I feel like I’m taking on a new approach that shuns this sort of movement. I probably should stop reading about Brother Rodney. Who knows.

Freddie’s column spoke on CARICOM and Guyana’s prorogation. I myself vaguely remember what was the response of the Council of Ministers to Guyana’s prorogation. I think there was some support. Whether by an act of direct support or an omission to act (tacit consent), guilt comes in either way, prompting protest of the CARICOM Secretariat by the Alliance For Change (AFC).

All I sayin’ is that dem CARICOM Heads of Government and Ministers nah gon talk bad bout they fren Ramotar, especially when Michel Martelly do wuss dan dat and especially when all ah dem does nak champagne glass when de meeting dem done.  And while they continue to do this, tens of thousands of Haitian descendants born in the Dominican Republic continue to be arbitrarily expelled from the Dominican Republic by a most undemocratic ruling by the DR’s constitutional court. All of this happens to the silence of both the western powers and CARICOM even though both entities have economic agreements with the DR.

I’ve said this before and I will say it again, Guyana’s problem, or more so, the region’s problem, or even the World’s problem might not be as much a race issue as it is a class issue. It seems like both dimensions of race and class find ways to redefine themselves making their assessment even more complicated. I have limited to no confidence in political leaders and like I have said at one too many talkshops, Politicians and the Media are more the problem than the solution. Meanwhile, Haiti bleeds. So Freddie Kissoon is right when he speaks about the lack of regional response to an affront to Parliamentary democracy in Guyana. That logic could even be applied to their response to what is happening in Haiti; but to paint the ‘white’ powers in the light of Defenders of Justice? No Uncle Freddie. Yah wrong fah duh one.

In all these things and more, I could be wrong.

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