With regards to your editorial (March 20) with reference to the language used by the USA Secretary of State (Foreign Minister) Mike Pompeo, I wish to underline the meaning of serious consequences. The Secretary unambiguously stated that serious consequences would follow if an illegitimate government were formed from fraudulent election results. I studied and taught US Foreign Policy and International Relations. The Secretary generally speaks for the President. Serious consequences could mean a variety of actions with the common one being sanctions. Sanctions are generally implemented as a punishment to force cooperation with law or hold free and fair elections. Sanctions were applied on countries that did not hold free and fair elections. Sanctions were and still are applied on Zimbabwe for electoral fraud. Sanctions are usually not unilateral (USA alone) but multilateral (several countries and regional organizations). In the case of Guyana, one would expect that the UK, Canada and Europe would follow the US lead since all these countries condemned the fraudulent SOPs count.
Going by past precedents and warnings when language of ‘serious consequences’ was uttered by American officials against other countries, it could mean various forms of sanctions against an illegitimate government and individuals associated with it including those who perpetrated the fraud and their family members. Chairs and CEOs of government agencies, corporations, etc. Police and army officials would not be spared since they were viewed as propping up an illegitimate regime.
It will be a real tragedy if the US were to impose serious consequences on Guyana; everyone would be affected. The country cannot bear the consequences. And all of these actions because a few individuals conspired to prevent a real count of SOPs that followed the elections.
Sanctions could be political (including diplomatic) and or economic (no loans and foreign aid). In past US actions, sanctions included banning a country from diplomatic engagements with other countries (states) and from participation in multilateral or regional organizations and agencies (including banking institutions). It included imposition of economic sanctions (on trade, travel) as well as cultural and military restrictions. The proceeds of sales of goods were kept in an escrow inaccessible to the illegitimate government. All foreign accounts and assets held by the country were frozen; no money could be spent. Remittances (sending money to loved ones) were ordered curtailed except for humanitarian purposes (for medicine and purchase of food). The country had virtually no foreign exchange. It could not purchase goods on credit; only cash sales were allowed. The government proceeded to confiscate banks’ foreign currency and those in possession of people in order to purchase goods.
Consequences mean agreements were suspended on various exchanges and on scholarships. Ongoing scholarships were suspended and students ordered returned to the home country. Sporting contacts were suspended; athletes were not allowed to partake in sports outside of the country; they could not make money from their talent. Sales of military equipment were forbidden.
Once the US pursues sanctions against a state, other countries generally fall in line.
If an illegitimate government is formed, punitive sanctions are coming; they will bite hard. Is this what the government and Madame Chair of Gecom want? It is best that the government and Gecom do the right thing to correct the mistakes they made relating to the elections’ count. Allow a fair count and declaration of the winner.
Dr. Vishnu Bisram
(Specialist International Relations)