Gov’t views US Ambassador’s decision to implement rejected USAID governance programme as arrogant and contentious
The decision by the United States Ambassador Dr Brent Hardt to implement a governance project or at least aspects of it, by USAID despite strong objections by the Government of Guyana has been viewed by the Cabinet as “arrogant and contentious”.
Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon, as his weekly post- Cabinet media briefing at the Office of the President today said, “Cabinet contends that all other considerations about this project pale into insignificance with regards to the US ambassador’s public utterances. Of some significance was the ambassador’s delay in responding to a formal request from Cabinet for the clarification from the US authorities, specifically with regards to the disapproval of the project. Cabinet was unhappy, to say the least, about the public response in the exclusive interview with Stabroek News when the US ambassador made public his intentions to ignore and disregard Cabinet’s disapproval.”
Purported statements by Ambassador Hardt about there being prior consultation with government were strongly refuted by Dr Luncheon.
“This project was conceived in the United States, funded by Congress, the procurement of a contractor to implement the project, the National Republican Institute, all of those steps were concluded prior to any engagement with this administration on this project and that took place in late 2012,” Dr Luncheon stated.
“On obtaining the details of that tendering process, the US ambassador’s assertion would be tested because it is our contention that the procurement of the contractor, the date of that activity, that procurement would establish that indeed the US ambassador never consulted, and he came to meet with the administration with a fait accompli, a project already conceived, a project already funded, a project contractor already on the job…I have no hesitation in saying there was no consultation with the Government of Guyana”.
The term “consultation” is treated with great reverence by government, Dr. Luncheon added, and the steps taken by the US Ambassador indicated otherwise.
The Cabinet Secretary, in response to a question, said that USAID and other organisations’ presence locally is based on mutually understood agreements. “There is a formal agreement that mutually recognises our obligations under the agreement”.
He added that there was no clause or obligation in the bilateral agreement which stipulated that government has to convince any agency or USAID why a project was objected to by government. Except for this one “blemish” government has had, and is continuing to have a mutually beneficial relationship with USAID, Dr Luncheon said.
It was disclosed that the proposed project has four components and one of these proposes to implement public support of political parties, an issue that has never obtained constitutionally, locally and the use of public purse to do so has never been considered locally by any administration, past of present according to the Cabinet Secretary.
Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues- Birkett has been mandated by Cabinet to ascertain if indeed the statements made by the US Ambassador are attributable to him, but a response is still to be received by her on government’s behalf. A previous letter dispatched by Dr Luncheon, seeking clarification about alleged activities indicating that the project was proceeding, is still to be responded to.
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 to the US Ambassador, requesting clarity on the matter.
On December 19, a meeting was convened among President Ramotar, Cabinet Secretary Dr. Luncheon and the Ambassador. The next day, 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.
Carta del Jefe de la Secretaría de Gabinete de Guayana
The Government of Guyana was not consulted on the USAID project
I have noted the statements in the media about the USAID project that was disapproved by Cabinet.
I have particularly noted the US Ambassador reportedly stating the US intention to implement the project notwithstanding Cabinet’s disapproval.
I have also noted the insistence of the US Ambassador that the Government of Guyana was consulted on the project.
I have also noted the political opposition supporting the US Ambassador’s line that the government had no good reason to object to the project.
Editor, at this stage the issue is the US Ambassador’s apparent contempt of the Cabinet of Guyana, an act that can have serious repercussions. He has been reported in the press to have instructed that Cabinet’s disapproval be ignored.
The Ambassador is playing with words with regards to consultation.
I still contend Guyana was not consulted.
The project was conceived by the American authorities.
The project was funded by the US Congress.
A bid was tendered, the US organisation, International Republican Institute, won that bid and was awarded the contract to implement the project.
It was subsequent to those actions by the American authorities that the US Ambassador approached the Government of Guyana.
I challenge the Ambassador to indicate at what point was the Government of Guyana consulted about this project.
The US Ambassador presented the government with a fait accompli.
His apparent contempt of the Government of Guyana begs the question and supports our contention that the Ambassador is of the opinion that the US authorities can execute projects in Guyana at will.
This is a dangerous proposition that all right thinking Guyanese and indeed sovereign states must repudiate.
Roger F Luncheon
El gobierno de Guyana rechaza proyecto de la USAID
Una de las principales agencias injerencistas de EE.UU. se encuentra en problemas en América Latina. Mientras en Ecuador las actividades de la USAID – United States Agency for International Development (Agencia de los Estados Unidos para el Desarrollo Internacional) fueron paralizadas recientemente por el gobierno de Rafael Correa, en Guyana piden explicaciones ante la ejecución de un proyecto de “liderazgo y democracia” ya rechazado por el gobierno de este país.
El representante del Secretariado Presidencial de Guyana, Dr. Roger Luncheon, manifestó el miércoles que había enviado un escrito al embajador de Estados Unidos, Brent Hardt, para pedirle que aclaren y confirmen si es que la Embajada, la USAID o el Instituto Republicano Internacional, están implementando actividades en Guyana bajo un proyecto de “liderazgo y democracia”.
En conferencia de prensa brindada esta semana, luego de una reunión de Gabinete, Luncheon explicó que el gobierno había rechazado en su momento el proyecto de un millón y medio de dólares de la USAID, en teoría diseñado para reforzar la participación de los ciudadanos locales en política pero en la práctica dirigido a apoyar a integrantes de la oposición. A pesar de este rechazo, el gobierno de Guyana tiene elementos para afirmar que se están desarrollando las actividades del programa. Eso motivó el envío de la nota oficial a la Embajada, que en lenguaje diplomático se trata de una clara protesta ante el atropello a la soberanía.
El vocero oficial del gobierno, Kwame McKoy, dijo el pasado lunes que el Gabinete había rechazado el proyecto de forma unánime y sin pensarlo dos veces. McKoy dijo que el gobierno de Estados Unidos no debe tener “absolutamente ninguna injerencia” en los asuntos de Guyana.
Acumulando rechazos en el patio trasero
Hace pocos días, el canciller de la República de Ecuador, Ricardo Patiño confirmó que el convenio con la USAID actualmente se encuentra en su fase de cierre, luego que no se llegara a un acuerdo con el gobierno de los EE.UU. “Si no se firman los acuerdos no se pueden seguir ejecutando los proyectos”, expresó Patiño. “Queremos firmar un convenio para dejar las cosas bien claras”, señaló.
Este rechazo se suma además a la expulsión decidida en mayo por el gobierno de Bolivia, cansado de las actividades conspirativas de la agencia norteamericana.
Recientemente, el portal web Cubadebate.cu informó de otro escándalo que compromete a la USAID. Sucede que por error se reveló que el programa SOL-OAA-13-000110, lanzado el 10 de julio de este año, estaba destinando 6 millones de dólares al financiamiento de al menos 20 organizaciones. Sus integrantes habían solicitado esos fondos para llevar adelante actividades “para derribar al régimen comunista” de la isla. La difusión de la noticia implica un nuevo revés para la agencia, que cierra un 2013 para el olvido.