‘Opportunity is now’ – Guyana & Brazil pushing defence, private sector cooperation


By Vishani Ragobeer

Guyana’s President Dr. Irfaan Ali and his Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva met for bilateral talks on Thursday and the two sides agreed to deepen their cooperation in the areas of defence, private sector developments and infrastructure development.

President Lula travelled to Guyana on Wednesday for a special engagement with Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders who were in Georgetown this week for their biannual summit.

On Thursday morning, he engaged President Ali directly. Following their talks, President Ali said there are many areas the two countries will be strengthening their cooperation on.

“For Guyana and Brazil, the opportunity is now,” President Ali said.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva and Guyana’s President Dr. Irfaan Ali at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (Photo: News Room/ February 29, 2024)

Connecting the two countries via roads, ports and air transport is a key focus. Dr. Ali disclosed that the two sides also discussed their “deep cooperation on defence” and the tourism sector, though additional details on what areas of cooperation will be targeted were not provided.

He, however, noted that a “working mechanism” was set up to advance defence and tourism cooperation.

There is also a private sector push with a Guyanese private sector group expected to travel to Brazil in the second half of this year.

“There is a technical working group that will commence working immediately so that we can mobilise finance for the deployment of investments in the various projects for our two countries, especially the infrastructure link,” President Ali said too.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (Photo: News Room/ February 29, 2024)

The infrastructure link referenced is the Linden to Lethem Highway in Guyana, which serves as a land connection for northern Brazil all the way to Guyana’s capital city, Georgetown.

In a meeting at the sidelines of the CARICOM summit on Wednesday, Presidents Ali, Lula and the Suriname President Chandrikapersad Santokhi discussed this road link, and another to connect the Brazilian state of Amapá and the capitals of Guyana and Suriname.

Meanwhile, President Lula, in turn, supported much of what the President said. For him, journeying to Guyana and deepening bilateral relations is part of his efforts to strengthen his country’s ties with its neighbours and strategic partners while also reversing some of the poor policies of his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro.

“My visit here is to reclaim a policy that we were moving forward and advancing in 2010,” President Lula said.

Both leaders also emphasised that the region must remain a zone of peace and that aggressions must be avoided.

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