Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo admitted on Thursday that he did not receive any request to meet with the team of US Congressmen who wrapped up a two-day visit to Guyana today, but he wants to know why there was so much “secrecy” surrounding the visit and the meetings with the Government.
At a Thursday afternoon press conference, Jagdeo said he finds it strange that the Government of Guyana has been relatively tightlipped about the meeting, adding that while he could understand some of the silence from the U.S, the Guyana government should have been putting more information out there about the visit by the high level congressional and military team.
“We did not meet with the Congressmen. There was no request for a meeting, but what I find odd about the entire visit, is not just the secrecy which is deplorable itself, but when Harmon (Minister of State) spoke about this visit, he said that he and the Government learnt of the visit from Mr. Trotman (Minister of Natural Resources)…Now, a visit of this nature I expect would be planned would be planned with our Embassy in Washington, I do not know whether they were informed, a visit of this nature should be planned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs…Don’t you find it strange that Minister Trotman was the person who was the interlocutor here and the first call was a meeting with Trotman”, Jagdeo said.
The Opposition Leader and Former President said while he would not want to speculate about the nature of the visit because the United States looks after its own interest, the Government of Guyana should have provided more information on the visit long before the Congressmen came.
“So we will support any engagement with the United States of America, but what I find particularly unappealing is that the US may have its reason for wanting to keep the visit quiet, for security reasons or anything, but what is our Government’s reason for hiding the visit from us and not allowing access and not even giving a statement”, he said.
According to the Opposition Leader, Guyana has already seen “one case where secret negotiations, secret incompetent negotiations led to the selling out of our interests through the signing of a contract that most of Guyana believe is stacked heavily in the favour of ExxonMobil. We are very worried about all these secret engagements with the Government of Guyana.”
The original contract between the Government of Guyana and Exxon was signed in 1999 under the People’s Progressive Party Government. It was renegotiated in 2016 under the APNU+AFC administration. Still, many analysts believe Guyana could have gotten a better deal.
It is suspected that the US Congressmen raised several issues related to Guyana’s developing oil sector and cooperation with the US in that area.
The Opposition Leader told reporters that the PPP supports longterm and short term engagements with the United States of America because the destinies of Guyana and the US are intertwined, he just does not want those meetings and visits to be shrouded in secrecy.
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