Suriname is benefiting from its military adventure against us, we should defend ourselves
Stabroek News
February 2, 2002

Dear Editor,

I do not know whether to applaud or to weep after reading President Bharrat Jagdeo's urging of Suriname's National Assembly to give collaboration between the two countries a chance, especially with his friendly diplomatic sound bite that "it is trite for us as developing countries to speak of abundance of natural resources while our suffering people subsist in deplorable conditions of poverty."

To ask the Surinamese to give collaboration a chance to succeed after they used military force to evict CGX, an oil exploration company, from territory both Guyana and Suriname strongly feel belongs to them, has nothing to do with collaboration.

We have lost our right to exploit resources that duly belong to us because we failed to defend our sovereignty. Plain and simple. Collaboration came as a result of confrontation, therefore it is a cop out, Mr. President, especially when it results in us being forced to negotiate the sharing of our resources and thereby reducing our future chances of negotiating from a position of economic strength.

What is worse is that this could be precedent setting, as Venezuela can now use military force to get Guyana to negotiate the sharing of our resources with it, in the name of collaboration to avoid confrontation. They can easily advert to President Jagdeo's words, "Today in every place and in all spheres of human endeavour, nations and peoples are abandoning old and historical conflicts. They are setting aside past differences and difficulties. They are retiring old grudges. People and nations are realizing the futility of confrontation and consequently are seeking to embrace cooperation."

President Jagdeo saw, on his Suriname visit, a map of that nation showing the territory in contention as being owned by our neighbours to the east. Not long ago, Venezuela had a map showing the territory in contention, between us and them, as being owned by our neighbours to the west. We are being sandwiched out of our rights and resources through a combination of sheer political muscle and military maneuvers, and we are now settling for collaboration?

I sincerely beg my fellow Guyanese to seriously consider what is happening in the name of peaceful coexistence, and ask ourselves if this is a price we are willing to pay?

I do feel like crying. Truly! It pains me that our vision as a nation is being blurred because we have not matured enough to see that our enemies, posing as friends, have seen we are divided and weakened by our division, so we cannot possibly defend ourselves. I do not think it is too late to stop the slide. Or is it?

To hear the PPP/Civic, therefore, calling on the international community to condemn Israeli forces for their "aggressive designs aimed at crippling the activities of the Palestinian Authority and to bring the PLO to its knees under the cloak of fighting terrorism," (SN, Jan. 30), is to truly understand that the PPP/Civic Government has not fully grasped the purpose of military power in defending one's sovereignty.

The Palestinians are fighting desperately for their survival, and so are the Israelis. All kinds of weapons are in use. The ferocious nature of each battle depicts the anger and bitterness in each other's hearts. It is all about protecting perceived sovereignty and avoiding the potential of being evicted from land each other strongly believes belongs to them. It is about avoiding being a servant in one's own country, in which another tells us how to use our resources.

Yours faithfully,

Emile Mervin