Just after his meeting with President Irfaan Ali and a joint press conference, the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken met with Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton at the US Embassy today.
At that meeting, Mr. Norton said that in addition to raising a number of national issues with Mr. Blinken, he also presented him with a dossier that contained a number of concerns and other issues that the Opposition wanted to bring to the attention of the US government.
In a telephone interview with News Source this afternoon, Mr. Norton explained that he felt it was necessary that the US be apprised of many of the pressing issues facing the people of Guyana.
He said the dossier that was presented, “contains a number of issues. We raised the issue of food and energy security. It dealt with the oil sector and I pointed out that there is an over focus on capital expenditure for infrastructure and no real focus on human development, and of course it bemoaned the fact that we are an oil nation and we are living in poverty and the resources are not trickling down. We informed him of the consequences of this type of economic starvation of the African Guyanese community and like in my presentation, I spoke to the fact that a one-party state is emerging and we mentioned the fact about the politicization of the Guyana Police Force and it operating as an arm of the People’s Progressive Party”.
The Opposition Leader said the fact that Guyana has seen the official visit of two US Secretaries of State over the past three years, highlights the reality of Guyana being in focus on the world stage.
“I underscored the fact that he himself said in his talk with the Western Hemispheric group that they are looking towards a free, secure, open and prosperous world and I said to him that we endorse those sentiments but we also believe that in the Guyana context, there is need for inclusiveness and once that can emerge, then we will find ourselves in a better position”, Mr. Norton said.
The last US Secretary of State to visit Guyana was Mike Pompeo in 2020. During his visit, he did not have any engagements with the Opposition.
News Source understands that Government officials were unaware of the planned meeting between the US Secretary of State and the Opposition Leader, and were blindsided when they received information about the meeting.
Mr. Norton told News Source that he also used the meeting to raise the issue of electoral reform and the need for an improved elections system ahead of the 2025 elections.
“I indicated to him that the guardrails of democracy are being removed and that Guyana is virtually a one-party state and I suggested to him that we need to move in the direction of inclusiveness and in the discussions I also used the opportunity to point out that there isn’t economic freedom in Guyana and that (Government) contracts are allocated in a very discriminatory way, and he seemed very much interested in us needing to have a stable situation after the next elections. And I said essentially, that that is possible once we can get a clean voters list and biometrics among other things”, Norton said.
The Opposition has been raising a number of governance issues with the international community. The US Secretary of State is the highest ranking US Government official to engage the current Opposition Leader.