Caricom’s attitude on Guyana

Barbados Nation
May 6, 1999

THE FASTER the governing and opposition parties in Guyana face up to the reality that, in the final analysis, it is THEY and the Guyanese people, and NOT the governments of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) that must resolve their national problems, the better it will be for Guyana and CARICOM.

This is becoming more apparent with every successive meeting of the CARICOM heads of government since the signing of the St. Lucia Statement On Guyana in July 1998, as an extension of the Herdmanston Accord brokered by a CARICOM mission to Georgetown in January 1998.

Let it be noted that, to her credit, this was basically the attitude reflected by Guyana President Janet Jagan, even before signing the St. Lucia Statement.

That Statement had, in the spirit of the Herdmanston Accord, assured that CARICOM “remains committed to the peaceful settlement of differences and disputes within our region and states”.

Ultimately, the Guyanese political leaders must bear responsibility for the political impasse that has developed over the past two-and-a-half months in inter-party dialogue.

But CARICOM cannot escape blame for failing to be forthright in dealing with known violations of the letter and spirit of the Herdmanston Accord by the main opposition People’s National Congress (PNC).

For one thing, as the CARICOM leaders have recognised, the parties to the Herdmanston Accord, Jagan and PNC leader Desmond Hoyte, had agreed to accept the findings of the first stage of the (CARICOM) audit as “binding upon them”.

When they met last month in Santo Domingo and had the banana trade and the Guyana political situation high on their agenda for a special caucus session, they took note of the failure by the PNC to fully honour commitments undertaken in the Herdmanston Accord.

They also had a comprehensive briefing from the facilitator appointed for the Guyana inter-party dialogue, Maurice King, the former Foreign Minister and Attorney-General of Barbados.

Revealing signs of his own frustration regarding the dialogue process and relevant support from the CARICOM political directorate, King indicated that his returning to Guyana to continue his work was now entirely in the hands of the Community’s governments.

A sorry indication of the priority CARICOM leaders attach to the Guyana situation is that more than two weeks after their Santo Domingo meeting, they are playing a “words game” on revised drafts on the dialogue process in that sister territory, where a legitimate government continues to face unnecessary obstacles.

It is a disappointing attitude indeed on the part of CARICOM.