El gobierno de Guyana insistió en que presentó una “nota verbal” al gobierno de EEUU, pidiendo explicaciones sobre el desarrollo de un proyecto de la USAID en dicho país pese a la desautorización de las autoridades guyanenses. Roger Luncheon, secretario de la presidencia de Guyana, expresó ayer que “no vamos a negociar bajo presión, no vamos a discutir un proyecto y su aplicación mientras se esté aplicando sin nuestro consentimiento”.
US Govt. disrespectful to Guyana Govt.
The decision by the United States of America’s (USA) Government to proceed with a project that the Guyana Government has already rejected is disrespectful.
“The US Govt. has in essence said to the Government of Guyana, we have no respect for what you said and what you direct and what conclusion you came to… we are going ahead with what we want.”
This is according to Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon, who yesterday was asked to provide an update on whether or not the US Government has responded to Guyana’s ‘Note Verbal.’
Dr. Luncheon had earlier informed media operatives that the ‘Note Verbal’ was lodged with the US State Department, asking it to clarify why it was proceeding with a project in Guyana that the Guyana Government had rejected.
He was making reference to the USAID/Guyana – Elections and Political Processes (EPP) Fund, Leadership And Democracy (Lead) Project.
Dr. Luncheon yesterday told reporters that the response from the US essentially called the Government of Guyana to engage its bilateral partner, the US in the discussions on the project and its design.
The Government Chief Spokesperson lamented the fact that it is being asked to discuss the project, even though it is already being implemented by the US, despite Government’s objection.
“I for one feel that this is not an insurmountable matter to be resolved but they are principled ways to address this issue. We ain’t negotiating under duress, we are not going to discuss a project and its implementation while it is being implemented.”
Dr. Luncheon is of the opinion that while much has been said and written about the merits of the project, at this point in time that is of lesser significance.
“What is most significant,” according to Dr. Luncheon, is the fact that the Guyana Government, which is a sovereign authority had declared its position on the project but despite its rejection, a foreign power has decided to ignore this and go ahead with its implementation.
Cabinet, which is the council of Ministers chaired by the President, had rejected the project when it was considered.
Dr. Luncheon had recently described some of the objections made by Cabinet as it relates to the project.
He said that the four components of the project were analyzed by Cabinet and one contained major activities that captured a relationship between USAID and individual political parties in Guyana.
This he said was a source of concern, given that Guyana does not have a public policy by government for the support for political parties.
He said that there is nothing like that in the law nor in practice and the Americans through the project “invited a profoundly sensitive issue.”
Dr. Luncheon said that this is something that has not been dealt with by any post-independent Guyana Government and further “for us represented a usurpation of our authority.”
He said that this was drawn to the attention of USAID which was asked to make the overtures and activities to be a relationship between institutions such as Parliament or the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and not parties.
Dr. Luncheon had recently castigated the US Ambassador, D Brent Hardt over comments he would have made publicly despite the fact that at the time there was no response to the formal ‘Note Verbal.’
He had said that the Ambassador’s comments were arrogant and contentious.
“Cabinet felt that the Ambassador’s public comments were arrogant, contentious and those utterances that the US Ambassador made indicating that notwithstanding a rejection, a disapproval of the USAID project that they intend to and are implementing the project, is really of severe significance,” said Dr. Luncheon.
According to Dr. Luncheon, the project was conceived and designed, and a contractor procured to implement all before approaching the Guyana Government.
Below is an excerpt of the project outline:
USAID/Guyana – Elections and Political Processes (EPP) Fund, Leadership And Democracy (Lead) Project.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is developing a programme to strengthen democratic institutions in Guyana. Through this programme, USAID seeks to strengthen the democratic functioning and characteristics of political parties and the Guyanese National Assembly through the provision of technical assistance.
The objectives are to enhance the technical capacity and functionality of the legislature through the regular use of consultative practices and mechanisms for legislative drafting, analysis, review, and passage. The programme should further reinforce democratic governance in Guyana by broadening political participation through more representative and competitive multi-party engagements. This programme will include a particular focus on women and youth.
“Government will not negotiate under duress with United States” – Luncheon
Head of the Presidential Secretariat and Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon has indicated that Government will not be negotiating the controversial governance project proposed by USAID under duress with United States of America officials.
Addressing the issue during his weekly post- Cabinet briefing today, Dr Luncheon stated, “We ain’t negotiating under duress. We are not discussing a project and its implementation whilst it’s being implemented.”
The Cabinet Secretary stated that government’s disagreement of the project which it has opposed after consideration remains unchanged, said, “It doesn’t enjoy the support, it doesn’t find favour with the Government of Guyana”.
It was disclosed that government is in the process of crafting a response to an official note which was dispatched to the US State Department via Ambassador Dr Brent Hardt and responded to, earlier this week.
Government had written to the Ambassador seeking clarification following reports that aspects of the rejected USAID Leadership and Democracy Project were still being implemented, despite the administration’s objection to its design. The response received from the US embassy called on government to engage the US on aspects, such as the design, of the project, according to Dr Luncheon. The response neither indicated that Government’s concerns were noted or that the project will be abandoned or halted.
Government’s official response will be communicated to the US officials before the end of this week, he added.
“We need to have a discussion, the administration feels it is not an insurmountable matter, and we must find ways to address the issue, but we will not hold discussions while the project is ongoing,” Dr Luncheon reiterated.
The move by USAID to implement various aspects of the projects has been described as an affront to Guyana’s sovereignty by the Cabinet Secretary. He had stated previously that, “It is essentially a challenge by the US ambassador in one, acknowledging that he, they have ignored Cabinet’s disapproval, they have disregarded Cabinet’s disapproval and are implementing elements of this project, not in any guise of having a discourse on the matter, but just to inform the government through the media of what position has been adopted by the American authorities”.
The views by some sections of society that the governance project should be entertained and even implemented due to its perceived importance is not the main issue, Dr. Luncheon had said.
“It is not about the project and the US$1.2 million that we’re going to lose, it is not that. Cabinet made a decision, a definitive decision that is where the matter ought to have ended!”
The USAID project was not approved by Cabinet and this was formally indicated to the relevant authorities on October 26, 2013. Unconfirmed reports later indicated that USAID project activities were being implemented, and Cabinet wrote a letter to the US Ambassador, requesting clarity on the matter.
On December 19, a meeting was convened among President Donald Ramotar, Dr. Luncheon and Ambassador Hardt. It was noted by Dr. Luncheon that, “The ambassador was not categorical in affirming to the president and myself that “yes, indeed, I have received confirmation that Cabinet’s disapproval, not withstanding which the Americans authorities have indeed continued to implement elements of the project. He was not categorical in making those two assertions”.
The next day, the Stabroek News quoted the same ambassador as saying that the USAID project was being implemented despite the embassy being in receipt of the formal correspondence from Cabinet voicing its disapproval.
The Government of Guyana has benefitted from what has been described as a healthy engagement with the USA through its USAID programme, according to the Cabinet Secretary over the years, but the actions concerning this specific project and the apparent move by USAID, to challenge the authority of the state have been viewed as “baffling and perplexing”.