Guyana would welcome OAS preventative diplomacy- Ishmael

Stabroek News
July 3, 1998

Guyana's Permanent Representative to the Organisation of American States (OAS), Ambassador Odeen Ishmael, is calling on the organisation to move to condemn threats to democracy in countries like Guyana.

The Guyanese diplomat's remarks came during a speech recently at the graduation exercise of the Inter-American Defense College, in Washington, DC.

Ishmael told the gathering that Guyana was now experiencing "acts of anarchy, terrorism and mob violence..." and that this was a clear indication that "democracy in Guyana is facing serious threat".

Ishmael said Guyana would welcome any sort of preventative diplomacy that the OAS may wish to apply.

"This I feel is overdue, but there is still scope for some initiatives to be taken now. The OAS can play an intermediary role to boost confidence and consensus building, to urge respect for law and order and to provide strong support for democracy," the ambassador said.

Ishmael also used the occasion to push the late president Cheddi Jagan's concept of a Regional Integration Fund (RIF).

He noted that the advent of the establishment of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), which is supposed to come on stream by 2005, would mean that some small countries like Guyana would suffer some disadvantage in what would be an atmosphere of completely free trade. As a consequence, the RIF would be one of the primary mechanisms to facilitate integration in the region.

"The Regional Integration Fund can handle the difficulties of this free trade transition, which involves extremely significant disparities. The costs for such a fund would be minimal but the benefits will be substantial," Ishmael said.