During a briefing today by a senior State Department Official in Washington, it was revealed that the US Secretary of State while in Guyana will discuss the impact of the crisis in Venezuela on Guyana.
The official said the Venezuelan situation is the hemisphere’s largest refugee and humanitarian crisis.
“It’s not just that Venezuela produces refugees, they are producing security problems for all of these countries by harbouring terrorists, harbouring narco-traffickers,” a senior State Department official said Wednesday.”
We’re trying to interdict drugs and we’ve put a lot of our assets into that and working closely with all of the Caribbean partners. Where are those coming from? A good deal of the activities seem to be cantered in Venezuela now.”
In addition to those discussions, it was also revealed that the United States and Guyana will exchange diplomatic notes for joint maritime patrols to interdict narcotics and that step will help provide security for Guyanese and American people.
The Secretary will also sign a Growth in the Americas memorandum of understanding during his visit. That MOU will permit Guyana to improve its investment enabling environment so that the country can benefit from transparent infrastructure investment that respects Guyana’s sovereignty, the State Department official said.
As the first Secretary of State to visit either Guyana or Suriname, Pompeo will sell his visit as a testament to the Trump administration’s prioritizing “our relations with the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.
“During the visit, Pompeo will “highlight the United States’ commitment to defend democracy,” and hold talks on regional security, highlight investment by U.S. companies in the gas and oil sector and raise attention on the plight of Venezuelan migrants and the ongoing crisis in that country. Pompeo will also raise concerns about China’s “predatory loans,” in contrast to U.S. companies’ investment practices throughout the hemisphere.
“We have been pretty clear. We are not running around saying, ‘Don’t deal with China,’ ” said a senior State Department official. “Make China deal with you on your terms.”
Issues related to Guyana’s natural resources are also to be discussed. “We’re not trying to broker contacts between the oil companies,” the State Department official said. “We’re going to meet with the oil companies, see how they’re doing; see what their plans are.”
The Secretary of State will be meeting on Friday with the CARICOM Secretary-General Irwin LaRoque to discuss U.S.-Caribbean issues.
The State Department official today said the Secretary will thank CARICOM for its essential role in supporting Guyana’s democratic process as its electoral count dispute played out.
Head of the Alliance for Change element of the A Partnership for National Unity Raphael Trotman, told Parliament during his contribution to the Budget Debate this week, that Guyana should not allow itself to become embroiled in the Venezuela domestic political situation.
While not naming Pompeo, the parliamentarian warned that the Ali administration should not to make any promises to the United States that could jeopardize Guyana’s case before the ICJ.
“We have made tremendous progress in the last five years to achieve a binding and internationally recognizable outcome by getting our controversy before the International Court of Justice and our cause is just and highly likely to succeed,” Trotman said. “We implore you not to turn a controversy, being settled by peaceful means, into a hot dispute that threatens our sovereignty and the peace within the region.”
The US Secretary of State will be arriving in Guyana on Thursday from Suriname and will leave on Friday for neighbour Brazil. It will be the first time that a US Secretary of State will be visiting Guyana since the country gained its independence.
Suriname’s Foreign Minister Albert Ramdin, a former assistant secretary general of CARICOM and of the Organization of American States, said Pompeo’s visit is a signal of US support for the Santokhi administration.
The visit will focus on bilateral and security issues, as well as energy, democracy and regional affairs. “Our approach is to build strong relations with the region. It includes the neighboring countries — Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana— the Netherlands and Europe as well as the United States, India and China,” he said.
Venezuela could come up in the margins of the discussion, Ramdin said, but it’s not the leading concern of the Santokhi administration — even as it continues to weigh heavily on minds in Washington.
“The new government’s position is that we don’t interfere in domestic matters, but we call on the leaders in Venezuela to find solutions to the benefit of the people of Venezuela,” Ramdin said. “While we are not in favour of sanctions or suspensions, we believe that all diplomatic channels should be used to facilitate a resolution in this conflict,” said Ramdin, an experienced diplomat.
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