A 13-member delegation of former and current representatives from a number of American states is currently in Guyana on a fact-finding mission to investigate claims of discrimination.
President Irfaan Ali has already indicated that he will not be meeting with the group, citing possible linkages to Guyanese US-based activist Rickford Burke.
But the Head of the Delegation and former Chairman of the Georgia Black Caucus, Dee Dawkins-Haigler has dismissed those claims told reporters on Tuesday that the delegation is “autonomous” and independent,” and they hope to meet with a wide cross-section of stakeholders, including the Government.
During a press conference at the Critchlow Labour College on Tuesday, Dawkins-Haigler said during her first visit to Guyana in 2021 she met with President Ali, and was of the opinion that they had established a good working relationship with the President and his Government.
“I do hold him in high esteem, so it was really surprising to us that he refused to meet with this delegation. I did hear rumours that part of the reason was because we were attached to Rickford Burke. [But] no one on this delegation has ever met Rickford Burke in person or ever had a conversation with him,” the Head of the Delegation said.
Dawkins-Haigler said the visiting delegation is still open to meeting with the President and his Government. According to her, “the door is still open.”
Dawkins-Haigler, who is the Founder of the Organization of World Leaders – a consortium of leaders in Government, Law, Business, Health, Finance and Politics – made it clear that the delegation is in no way associated with any of the political parties here in Guyana.
“We want to make it clear that we are not affiliated with any of the political parties here. We have come to seek out information that will better help us in determining if indeed there is any type of discrimination in the country based on many allegations that we have received from numerous people in and out of this country, Dawkins-Haigler told reporters.
She said the complaints received range from allegation of discrimination in the award of contracts to discrimination in the utilization of State resources.
“We have received reports that are alleging racism, discrimination. There is purportedly injustice when it comes to the dispersing funds throughout the country to different indigenous groups. There were allegations that the country was not distributing or awarding contracts to people without prejudice because it is based on, supposedly, whatever political party or ethnic group that you belong to. We also received allegations that based on race you might be treated differently in the judicial system,” Dawkins-Haigler said.
She said the delegation will be meeting with Guyanese of all ethnicities, and not just a single group, as well of members of civil society and the private sector.
On the completion of their fact-finding mission, the US delegation will compile a report. It will be submitted to the United Nations, the White House, Congress, and the National Black Caucus.