Coalition’s foreign lobbyist says sanctions will hurt ordinary Guyanese, keep investors out
By Ravin Singh
The hope for a better life, which followed the discovery of oil in Guyana, could be shattered by the crippling nature of international sanctions if the APNU+AFC refuses to accept its March 2 electoral defeat.
This is according to U.S-based consultant Bart Fisher. His Washington-based lobbying firm JJ&B was hired by the Coalition to trump up its interest with U.S. officials and the media.
“The problem with the visa restrictions that were announced is at the end of the day it ends up hurting the man and the woman in the street; the [Guyanese] people.
“Why is that? Well, sanctions create a bad investment climate and that would deter investors from coming into Guyana.
“So I can’t imagine why the US would want to do that,” said Fisher, who was hired by the APNU+AFC in April on a monthly retainer of US$40,000.
The consultant shared this view on Wednesday during an interview with APNU+AFC activist Mark Benschop on Benschop Radio 107.1.
As an APNU+AFC agent moved to the High Court earlier this week to block a declaration based on certified results from the national recount, and instead have the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) issue that declaration based on fraudulent numbers, the U.S made good on its promise to impose sanctions.
In a statement, the government said it “regrets the decision taken by the United States Department of State.”
In March, Guyana’s international partners – including the U.S – had said that any individual or party which seeks to benefit from electoral fraud would be met with sanctions.
But even as the recount has shown that the APNU+AFC lost the elections by more than 15,000 votes to the PPP, the Coalition has consistently tried to have a declaration made showing that it has won those elections.
In response to these attempts at electoral fraud, the U.S initiated the first stage of its sanctions – visa restrictions – which target top ranking officials in government, the coalition, the judiciary, and party financiers.
But even though these sanctions are being imposed because of the actions of the APNU+AFC, and are initially targeting individuals associated with the party, ordinary citizens will also be negatively impacted, says the U.S-based consultant.
Agreeing with Fisher that sanctions, caused by the APNU+AFC, will indeed hurt ordinary Guyanese, was one of the party’s national candidate, Attorney-at-Law Amanza Walton-Desir.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) noted earlier this year that the poverty rate in Guyana stood at 41.2% in 2017 based on a poverty line of US$5.50 a day.
The IDB concluded that Guyana’s poverty rate exceed that of Latin America, which is one of the poorest regions in the world.
Both Canada and the United Kingdom (UK) have said that they too will apply similar sanctions if there is a continued attempt to thwart the will of the electorate.
Political scientists and experts have predicted that those sanctions could evolve into trade restrictions and assets being frozen in those countries.
As at June 11, 2020, a total of US$94, 921,803 was deposited into the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in a Natural Resource Fund account held by the Bank of Guyana. It represents the payment for the first two loads of oil Guyana was entitled to and royalties paid by ExxonMobil.
There is a great deal of uncertainty about whether Guyana would be able to access these funds should APNU+AFC’s David Granger be sworn in based on those figures that the international community has described as “fraudulent.”
A British court earlier this month had denied Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela access to US$1.8B being held in the Bank of England vault, since he is not recognized by the UK as the legitimate President of that country.
The 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the 35-member Organisation of American States (OAS), the 27-member European Union (EU), the 54-member Commonwealth, the ABC countries, Brazil, Norway, Nelson Mandela’s Elders Group, and local groups have issued individual calls for the declaration to be made in keeping with the certified results of the recount.