Visiting US Congressmen and the ensuing suspicion – By Adam Harris

Visiting US Congressmen and the ensuing suspicion

  • Kaieteur News – 26 August 2018 – By Adam Harris 

The largest number of United States Congressmen descended on Guyana recently, creating history since Guyana became an independent country. Guyana had already entered the record books by being the venue where the first United States Congressman was killed outside the United States.

In 1978, Congressman Leo Ryan, in response to an appeal by relatives of some people living in Jonestown, then the headquarters of the People’s Temple headed by self-styled Reverend Jim Jones, travelled to Guyana.          

While here he managed to get Jones to release those who wanted to leave the People’s Temple. On the Port Kaituma Airstrip where a Twin Otter piloted by Astil Paul sat waiting for the Congressman and those who opted to leave, people associated with the People’s Temple arrived aboard a tractor and opened fire. They killed the Congressman and some of those preparing to leave.

That was a prelude to the largest suicide ever recorded in human history. More than 900 people died in that mass suicide.

After that incident, another senior American politician came in the person of Atlanta Mayor and former United States ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew Young.

Apart from President Jimmy Carter who came to Guyana three times, no other senior American official—and I am not talking about the Ambassadors to Guyana—ever saw the need to visit Guyana. So it was telling that nine Congressmen visited Guyana.

For some people the visit was suspicious, especially as it came as Guyana is prepared to extract oil from the deep waters off the Guyana coast. It has not escaped notice that when Guyana was a country from which its leaders travelled with a begging bowl to almost every corner of the earth, not many people were keen to come here.
During the 23 years of the rule of the People’s Progressive Party, there was never a visit by United States Congressional leaders. In fact, Guyana did almost everything it could to alienate senior American diplomats.

At a reception hosted by Ambassador Brent Hardt, the then Minister of Education released what the then Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon described as a feral blast. This blast came on the eve of the Ambassador’s departure, because he dared to criticize the manner in which outgoing President Bharrat Jagdeo liberalized the radio spectrum.

The presence of Congressmen in a country is a signal that investors from various states may have an interest in investing in the country. And one of the criticisms of the previous administration has been the failure of the government to attract investments.

But on the other side of the fence, some people are skeptical about the sudden interest being paid to Guyana following the announcement that the country had oil in very commercial quantities. Investors are people who seek to make money on whatever money they have. They also seek countries that are politically stable.

During their visit to Guyana the Congressmen were duly informed that Guyana is a politically stable country. Of course they are seeing the situation in neighbouring Venezuela from where the residents are fleeing in droves.

Of interest, many Caribbean countries benefited from their relationship with the United States. Barbados and Jamaica are prime examples. In fact, they ruled the economic landscape in the region, often scoffing at Guyana.

On one occasion a Jamaican Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, had harsh words for President Bharrat Jagdeo. “They go around, hat in hand, to every capital of the world like panhandlers on the street, telling people how we are like the wretched of the earth; we are poor and that we need all sorts of charity.

“Not only am I tired of it, but I believe that we have allowed it (the constant begging for aid) to cause us to put off indefinitely the need to confront some of our own weaknesses and deficiencies and to deal with them.”

Indeed such was the condition in Guyana; we were always seeking aid and debt write-offs. Investors were skeptical ever since Guyana nationalized the bauxite and sugar industries way back when.

We had a reputation for violence at election time to the extent that people fled this country. The Americans sat and looked on. The situation has changed since then; the country is stable and there is the promise of rapid economic development.

The suspicion of corruption may still be there, but the Americans and the British are convinced that Guyana is not as corrupt as it once was. They have provided justice improvement officials and investigators to help track suspected stolen state assets.

So the congressmen came and caused some raised eyebrows. They hosted no press conferences and simply did not meet with the media.

They did not even meet with Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo who later said that he hoped the government did not enter into any secret deal with the visiting congressmen.

I am unaware if the congressmen came by invitation, but it does not matter. What matters is whether people find Guyana attractive. New airlines are coming, as are people. Recent figures showed that the number of people coming to Guyana has soared.

I know that many are suspicious about these visits, but the reality is that what is happening in Guyana is nothing new. Other countries have gone through this phase. Singapore, which was at the same level of development as Guyana just prior to Guyana gaining Independence, is now 300 years ahead of Guyana.

Foreign investors descended on that country when it was let go by Malaysia. Today Singapore is a first world country. Guyana could be heading in that direction, but there is always the suspicion.

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  • Clyde Duncan  On August 27, 2018 at 5:35 am

  • Emanuel  On August 27, 2018 at 4:57 pm

    “— there is always the suspicion.”

    Wasn’t the British and Yanks who meddled in our country a long time ago?

    So, what do you expect?

  • Albert  On August 27, 2018 at 8:51 pm

    Mr Harris maybe they have information from the CIA on our vulnerability. We are a tiny nation of minimal global importance about to acquire a wealth making resource. Venezuela, Brazil etc. or others, may love to walk in and takeover. How would that affect the U.S. Their interest is about the US not Guyana.

  • Claude tait  On August 29, 2018 at 8:57 am

    Nice job Adam, very thought-provoking….keep up the good work.

  • Tony Hickson  On August 31, 2018 at 11:26 pm

    Mr. Adam Harris you have to be naive not to think that a world superpower that imposes “democracy” to the world isn’t acting a hypocrite for conducting secretive meetings. What’s the use of business class airlines if they are not affordable for diaspora Guyanese? Aren’t you aware that the latest airlines only cater to corporate suits?

    And why are you comparing Singapore to Guyana when Singapore is not an extraction resource country and is situated to the rising Eastern powers? Guyana is situated mostly to emerging markets which are not as wealthy as compared to China or India.

    Have you forgotten how the corporate officials were laughing at your employer, Kaieteur News and also disrespected Christopher Ram and Nigel Hinds, both of whom are charted accountants?

  • C Thompson  On September 3, 2018 at 2:33 am

    Jonestown was not a suicide cult but rather it was an intelligence agency operation that sought to discredit Jim Jones socialist leanings to Cuba,USSR and North Korea at the time of the Cold War.

    If you actually believe that 900+American citizens all consumed cyanide-laced Kool Aid from drinking cups sourced from a barrel, then I have ocean front property in Lesotho to sell you.

    Dogs also died on the scene so it was either a medical genocide by the CIA operatives or they were murdered in cold blood to cover up a conspiracy.

    The day before the alleged “massacre”, a US congress man held a speech at Jonestown and the members were expressing happiness and joy. Is this typical of a cult following which would later commit suicide en masse the morning after?!

    One of the alleged CIA operatives also survived and the stories don’t seem to match with the other survivors.

    Gerry Gouveia will sweat in fear if you ask him about Jonestown, but I’ve spoken with several former army men in the late 1980s regarding the Jonestown incident, and they all seemed to agree that it was a foreign operations and the people were murdered by gunshot wounds and lethal injections rather than voluntarily drinking a cup of cyanide-laced Kool Aid.

    900+ American citizens died at Jonestown, but only 7 bodies were examined! That is a very poor sample size.

    They also claimed that Jim Jones used a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but the gun was located 20 feet from him.

    And this is exactly why Guyanese are suspicious of US congressmen coming to Guyana on no media allowed meetings. There is nothing but trouble from them!

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