US ambassador crossed line, says Guyana acting foreign minister

US Ambassador to Guyana Brent Hardt: Did his comments about Guyana’s president stir up a hornet’s nest?

US Ambassador to Guyana Brent Hardt: Did his comments about Guyana’s president stir up a hornet’s nest?

Outgoing US ambassador to Guyana, Brent Hardt was on Wednesday evening reminded that his attack on the president of Guyana will not be tolerated within the boundaries of mutual respect, diplomatic relation and inter-governmental collaboration.

Acting minister of foreign affairs, Priya Manickchand, speaking at the 238th independence anniversary of the United States of America, said, “His most recent assault on the president and government of Guyana, in his remarks to the recently created NGO the Blue Caps, has in our judgment gone beyond the boundaries of professionalism and diplomacy.”

She said, for a professional foreign service officer with appointment of ambassador, to make such declarations, accusations, allegations and innuendos about the executive president of Guyana or of any country for that matter is to her mind totally unacceptable.

“As one reads the diatribe against our president… at the liberties he has taken with diplomatic conventions, commitment to accuracy and sense of occasion, this situation I report is intolerable, the ambassador has been associated with a dedicated attack on the president and the government on the holding of local government election,” Manickchand said.

She added that the ambassador has been supported in this ill conceived venture by the opposition section of the media and his colleagues in the diplomatic corps.

“We have not lost any efforts in correcting their hopelessly jaundiced views of this situation, his superficial grasp is revealed by his misinformation about the bill (local government), worse yet is his reluctance to have views of the hosting of local government election corroborated by other knowledgeable stakeholders other than the Chairman of GECOM,” Manickchand said.

The minister lamented that the ambassador’s behaviour is unacceptable and the government has pledged that it will not accept such.

As the minister was speaking, a small section of the gathering booed the minister.

The gathering of about 300 people comprised members of the diplomatic corps, the private sector, nongovernmental organisations and other invitees.

Meanwhile, the minister saluted the USA on its independence anniversary.

“Our presence here tonight recognises the July 4th event, commemorating the birth of the American Nation. Guyana joins the rest of the world in recognising that historic event,” she said.

Manickchand said, since 1776, America has succeeded in making unprecedented impacts on the rest of the world, justifying its claim to be a super power.

“Over those years its hegemony has been minimally challenged, as its political and military might has no equal among countries,” she said.

Manickchand said she has listened very keenly to remarks made by Hardt and cannot help but think of how some of what he said can apply to Guyana.

“For a very long time we were a country that lacked free and fair elections and thanks to your good record keeping and declassification of documents we’ve confirmed that those national elections were intentionally prevented by external forces effectively retarding the development of Guyana and the democratic process for many decades,” she said.

She said today international rule making by the powerful countries is anything but democratic, and cited that the Security Council for example is excellent demonstration of the lack of democracy and there appears to be little appetite by those who control that council for any reform.

“You Excellency, it would be remiss of me if I did not mention that even though we are an independent nation and not a colony of any state, laws made in the United States of America apply in our countries, and we are advised that if we do not comply we will be sanctioned,” she said.

Manickchand cited the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act as a example, while noting that there was no consultation with the countries involved before that law was passed.

“Our banks in Guyana will soon have to provide information to the United States government, on bank accounts held by US citizens in this country, of course, we don’t have the strength or the power your people had in those days to fight against King George, so we have to comply with what big brother wants regardless of how difficult those impositions are for our fledging private sector, lest the big stick is used against us,” she said.

In this regard, the minister also mentioned the situation facing Antigua and Barbuda, which secured ruling in its favour by the World Trade Organisation, but to date is still waiting for the United States to abide with that ruling.

Manickchand also conceded that democracy and the rule of law is not only about local government election, which she said she is confident the Guyanese people will resolve in a very near future, and noted that democracy must be practiced by all who chose to preach it at all times.

“Guyana like so many other countries in the world has been one stage on which American hegemony has played out and its 1950 and 1960 events live long in the memory of Guyanese,” she said.

Manickchand also pointed out that, ever since the ambassador assumed office, he contributed to a tension filled relationship with the government of Guyana. These areas of tense relationships, the minister said, have attracted considerable efforts on the government’s part to address, but often times without much success.

Meanwhile, Hardt in his remarks reiterated his call for the hosting of local government election, which he stressed that the US believes that such election will be a transformative issue for Guyana. He also thanked his team from the US embassy and the Guyanese government for making his stay pleasurable.

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