The Embassy of the United States of America
…US Government distances self from “PPP likely to win” remarks
…says Prof Ellis made comments before joining State Department
The Embassy of the United States of America has distanced itself from the remarks recently publicised of US State Department Adviser, Dr. Evan Ellis who spoke to the “likely return of the PPP to power” after the coming elections.
Ellis had provided no statistics or hard data to support his claims and the statement was found to be personal sentiments of the author cited as “Ellis, 2019” at the end of the publication. On Tuesday, the US Embassy stated in a release: “Comments reported by Guyana’s online and print dailies were written by Professor Ellis last April before his employment with the U.S. State Department and in no way reflect an official position. The outcome of the election is for the people of Guyana to decide. In this regard, the only interest of the United States is in free, fair, and peaceful elections on March 2. The U.S. Embassy in Guyana regrets any misunderstanding caused by Professor Ellis’ dated comments.”
According to his bio, Dr. Ellis’ studies focused on Latin America’s relations with China and other non-Western Hemisphere actors and he has presented an array of his work in a wide range of commercial and government forums in 25 countries. Several of the academic’s references in the journal came from his own interviews, local media outlets, overseas outlets and at times, his own publications and himself, cited as “Ellis, 2019” or “Ellis, 2013”.
His comment on the “likely return of the PPP to power” was cited at the end of the journal as “Ellis, 2019”.
The APNU+AFC Coalition has also slammed what it described as a mischievous Demerara Waves report which broke the news stating that the media agency cherry picked just a few words from a 24-page document. They called out Ellis as a “known asset” of a certain lobbying firm in Washington DC with known connections to the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) being paid tens of millions of dollars to whitewash the party’s tainted image.
In condemning the Demerarawaves report the coalition, the use of a few selected words taken completely out of context smacks of desperation by the PPP and its agents. “Theirs is an attempt to dupe the Guyanese public into believing that the PPP stands any chance of returning to government. It also illustrates that the PPP is attempting to distract from their beleaguered presidential candidate, dishonest Irfan Ali, and their recent disastrous manifesto launch.”
According to the coalition it is interesting to note as well that the so-called “expert” admitted that the PPP regime has a legacy of corruption, victimisation, nepotism and narcotocracy. “That is the PPP’s real and true image and that is in their DNA. The PPP is not to be trusted, it is not reformed and it is the same old cabal with the same kleptocracy agenda. No high-priced Washington lobbying firm with a bucket of whitewash can mask that from the Guyanese people who are very familiar with the unending list of development work being done by the APNU+AFC Coalition Government which has initiated a nationwide development overdrive,” the coalition statement read.
The coalition said on the other hand, not only is the PPP trapped in its image of being obscenely and grotesquely corrupt but several of its leaders are either facing court trials or being investigated for criminal conduct.
Dr. Ellis stated: “Under the APNU-AFC government of David Granger, the nation was making meaningful, if slow progress in combatting corruption and reforming its institutions. While the PPP governments which preceded it manifested relatively competent administration and a pro-business orientation, the accusations of corruption, and their level of cooperation with leftist populist regimes such as Venezuela, as well as the PRC, arguably caused discomfort in Washington.”
Nonetheless, the Guyana Chronicle fact checked some of additional information within the publication where he touched on longtime challenges of Guyana such as illegal mining, money laundering and drug and human trafficking. Dr. Ellis stated: “Guyana is both an exporter of marijuana to Brazil and a transit country for cocaine. Granger administration Finance Minister Winston Jordan has asserted (with strong objections from the opposition PPP) that a substantial amount of the country’s economy depends on the proceeds from narcotrafficking.”
However, the Guyana Chronicle’s research showed that Minster Jordan has not stated that the economy “depends” on the proceeds from narcotrafficking but rather that this is what kept it afloat under the PPP regime.
Minister of Citizenship and former Commissioner of Police, Winston Felix said in 2019: “It was under their watch that contraband smuggling was prevalent, narco- trafficking and gun-running were common place, gun crimes were at an all-time high, drug death squads roamed the streets causing over 400 unsolved murders, human trafficking was common place, crimes such as bribery, armed robberies, arson, inter personal violence, murder, piracy, rapes all increased under the PPP/C. The GPF was starved of the resources and training they badly needed.”
He noted that the National Anti-Narcotics Agency (NANA) was established by the coalition government to tackle drug trafficking. As a result, there has been an increase in narcotic seizures, with over 800kg of cocaine, 65,000kg of cannabis, 1,900kg of heroin seized in 2017 and 2018 while Guyanese authorities initiated 503 prosecutions and convicted 227 individuals for narcotics trafficking during the same period. He also credited intelligence gathering through CCTV cameras and the establishment and training of special police units.
Also, the government has been working with local and international agencies to ensure Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) measures are put in place. “Guyana has shown strong political will to combat money laundering and has made progress on the AML front,” U.S Department of State established in its 2019 U.S International Narcotics Control Strategy Report Volume II: Money Laundering.
In his opening paragraphs, Dr. Ellis also referenced the attempt of a Venezuelan navy helicopter to land on a ship contracted by ExxonMobil conducting seismic survey in December 2018. He said that Guyana’s current political crisis has the potential to “invite opportunistic challenges to Guyana’s sovereignty by neighbouring Venezuela and Suriname”.
However, thinking ahead to such threats is why President David Granger, Attorney General, Basil Williams and several other political heads of government had stressed the importance of the rightful interpretation of Guyana’s Constitution which, at no time, leaves room for the country to exist without a president or government. “My government has held to this position at all times – the country cannot be left without a government. The country’s borders, natural resources, sovereignty and territorial integrity must be protected and its international obligations fulfilled. Citizens must be provided with public services at the central, regional and local levels to ensure their welfare,” President Granger reasoned on September 19, 2019 when the Opposition protested for the opposite.
Article 106 (7), of the Constitution states: “Notwithstanding its defeat, the government shall remain in office, and shall hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall, by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine, and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the election.”
Dr. Ellis played heavily on the “prospect for violence” in Guyana based on the current “political crisis” and what he relayed as impending dissatisfaction of Guyanese following the outcome of the 2020 elections. “Whatever the outcome, a significant number of Guyanese will be highly dissatisfied with the outcome and convinced that their interests can no longer be protected through traditional democratic mechanisms, raising the prospect for violence,” the scholar wrote.
However, the current “political crisis” in Guyana coupled with the coming elections have only resulted in several small parties emerging from various demographics to contest — nothing strange to the elections season in Guyana. The country’s main political parties and its supporters have fixed their attention towards the campaign season while the government has long accepted and acts in interim status awaiting the swearing in a new government come 2020. At the same time, the Venezuelan territorial claim, through the current government’s efforts, will be legally settled once and for all by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in March 2020.