By: Attorney Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth (Fort Lauderdale)
There has been much interest in Guyana recently. In the past few weeks, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited the country to open doors for American investors. Mark Cuban, of the Dallas Mavericks and Shark Tank, then sent his team on a private jet. The details of that trip weren’t released but it likely relates to the international interest in securing deals in the country now as there is an expected oil boom in the upcoming years.
This phenomenon of interest in Guyana’s resources is not unprecedented. For centuries, explorers attempted to locate the infamous El Dorado, or city of gold. Some miners were successful in finding large amounts of gold off of the Essequibo River. Many freed Africans also explored the interior in search of gold. They were less inclined to stay in their villages because work was scarce with the low price that sugar was fetching. The search for gold continued as Guyana and Venezuela fought over the Essequibo region.
U.S. intervention in Guyana has also been continuous. In the 1950s and 1960s, the United States believed a communist Guyana could threaten their supply of bauxite (which they were using heavily in the military). Guyana and Suriname supplied about 66% of America’s bauxite. Venezuela also supplied oil and iron to America. The U.S. did not want a communist nation to interfere with their interests in these three countries. There is no evidence that Jagan was a communist or had ties to soviet groups but the U.S. still interfered with Guyana’s independence and elections.
“The British, at the suggestion of the Kennedy Administration, delayed [Guyana’s] scheduled independence and changed its electoral system in October 1963. [T]he electorate had to vote for parties instead of people, and a still popular but politically weakened Dr. Jagan fell from power. Once he fell, the British granted independence to the new republic of Guyana.” “They made a mistake putting Burnham in,” Janet Jagan said of one example of foreign interference in Guyanese politics.
The PPP, led by President Dr. Irfaan Ali, assumed power after many months of delayed election results in Guyana. The party has promised to review and renegotiate an Exxon oil contract that supposedly robbed Guyana of $55 billion. One hopes that the PPP upholds its position to renegotiate the Exxon deals and avoid the fate that outside influence to control oil has had on countries in the Middle East.
Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth, Esq. is a civil transaction/litigation and bankruptcy attorney. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, a minor degree in History that focused on the slavery and indentured servitude eras, a minor degree in Criminology, and a Juris Doctor degree.
MDGR Law, P.A.