UK Appeals Court Annuls Guaidó’s Seizure of Venezuelan Gold

By Francisco Dominguez

The Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) was right in appealing to the High Court’s ludicrous decision last July to grant US-sponsored Juan Guaidó, in his ‘capacity’ as self-proclaimed “interim president” of Venezuela, the right to retrieve 31 tons of gold (about £800 million) entrusted in custody to the Bank of England (BoE) by the Venezuelan state.

On October 6th October 2020, after processing the BCV’s case, the UK Court of Appeals issued a ruling to annul the High Court’s decision favouring Mr Guaidó with Venezuela’s gold. Venezuela’s BCV has been involved in this litigation with the BoE in UK courts since July for an urgent release of these resources to help the country fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Venezuela is the target of vicious and harmful illegal and criminal unilateral coercive measures from the US government. These sanctions are all-encompassing and involve just about every aspect of Venezuela’s economy, especially its oil industry, but also gold trade, finances, shipping, including the importation of food, medicines and health inputs. US’s declared intention is to bring about an economic collapse leading to a social explosion that would justify an external (US military) ‘humanitarian’ intervention. Furthermore, Venezuela has suffered several mercenary attacks in the last period, aimed at kidnapping and assassinate President Maduro and other high officials in the Bolivarian government, which have Washington’s fingerprints all over.

Venezuela is the target of vicious and harmful illegal and criminal unilateral coercive measures from the US government.

The UK Court of Appeals identified ‘ambiguities’ in the UK government recognition of Mr Guaidó as “president” in statement from February 2019, partly the reason for its ruling. But, there were no ambiguities, the UK government recognised the self-proclaimed “interim” Guaidó because it sought to partake in the share of the spoils once and if President Maduro was overthrown. Ministers in the UK government had secretly, with the collusion and complicity of Mr Guaidó, set up a ‘Unit for the Reconstruction of Venezuela’.

The duplicity in the UK government relations with the legitimate government of President Maduro is extraordinary, since, it although formally says it does not recognise his government, it is quite prepared to send ambassadors who present credentials to Maduro himself in person in a public ceremonies. This was one important part of the argument of the BCV lawyers: the UK not only has an ambassador in Caracas, but the ambassador appointed by the Bolivarian government remains in her post in London.

The duplicity in the UK government relations with the legitimate government of President Maduro is extraordinary

This duplicity with Venezuela also applies to the European Union, since despite its individuals member states ‘recognising’ the self-proclaimed, they all have ambassadors in Caracas and accept the Bolivarian ambassadors in their countries. EU’s duplicity is nearly identical to that of the UK government since there are several European financial institutions that, as with the gold in BoE, are illegally retaining well over US$5 billion that belong to the Venezuelan state, people and government.

The amount is shocking, especially given that the mainstream media pumps the narrative that all the economic difficulties existing in Venezuela have been caused by Maduro government’s policies. Thus, on top of Trump’s criminal sanctions, ‘enlightened’ Europe massively contributes to denying millions of highly vulnerable Venezuelans precious financial resources to purchase food, medicine and health inputs, essential to saving lives in the context of the Coronavirus pandemic. As Boris Johnson and Co in London, European financial institutions point to the ‘legal ambiguities’ created by the EU recognition of Guaidó as “interim president”, for holding on to billions of Venezuelan dollars.

Banks Retaining Venezuelan Financial Resources

BankCountryUS$ millions
Novo BancoPortugal1,547
Bank of EnglandUK1,323
Banque EniBelgium53
41 other institutions17 other countries654

Europe has even applied sanctions to leading opposition politicians in Venezuela for the ‘sin’ of having agreed to participate in the coming elections to the National Assembly to be held on 6th December 2020. They slavishly toe the US line. Trump has also applied sanctions to these politicians, an even to the directors of Venezuela’s National Electoral Council, for the ‘crime’ of organising the December election.

The 6 October 2020 UK Court of Appeals ruling by itself does not guarantee the return of the gold to Venezuela. Therefore, we need to set up the pressure to demand the release of these retained resources that is harming millions of Venezuelans and denying them their human right to medicine, food, and health care. So, if you have not yet done it, sign the petition to return the gold to Venezuela. The country needs these resources to help save the lives of the most vulnerable to Coronavirus infection: people with diabetes, HIV, cancer, hypertension, asthma, etc. It will help to set a powerful precedent that might push European financial institutions to do the right thing.

Sign the petition to return the gold to Venezuela.

Dr Francisco Dominguez
Francisco Dominguez

Dr Francisco Dominguez is a senior lecturer at Middlesex University, where he is head of the Research Group on Latin America. He is National Secretary of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign. Dominguez came to Britain in 1979 as a Chilean political refuge. Ever since he has been active on Latin American issues, about which he has written and published extensively. He is co-author of Right wing politics in the New Latin America, Zed Books.

So you want to be a journalist?

by James Tweedie

So you wanna be a journo, and why not? Well, here are a few good reasons to let the dream die.

The pay is rotten

For a white-collar job with its own university degree course, journalism pays peanuts. A reporter for one of the big national newspapers or TV stations will get about £25,000 a year, on which you might have to survive in London where most of them are based.

Sure, Boris Johnson used to get £275,000 a year for writing a weekly column in the Daily Telegraph. But you and I aren’t BoJo. You could earn twice as much as a reporter in a blue-collar trade like plumbing, and keep more sociable hours.

The value of a journalism degree is questionable. The whole set-up of university is the antithesis of working for a news outlet. Your tutor will give you a week or two to write a 5,000-word essay full of polysyllabic words you probably don’t really understand, and in your final year you’ll spend nine months writing a dissertation like a small book. How does that prepare you for churning out five or ten stories of between 50 and 500 words in one eight-hour shift?

Getting a job as a junior reporter at your local newspaper is probably a much better bet than studying. They’ll pay you peanuts, so you might have to live with your parents until you can get a senior job. But you’ll end up with all the practical skills and experience instead of a £30K student debt.

The hours are terrible

The news doesn’t eat or sleep, and neither do journalists. In the internet age, most newsrooms run 24/7. You’ll be expected to work weekends and night shifts on a rotating rota with everyone else.

You might be sent round the country to report on events, staying overnight in hotels and B&Bs of highly variable comfort or else coming back late at night. Or you might be stood outside some venue in the cold and rain all night waiting for some VIP to come out and give you a soundbite.

It’s hard to find work

It’s frankly appalling how many talentless wankers harbour pretensions of being a journalist. I’m talking about people who just can’t write a news story. You’re going to have to compete with them for a small number of jobs. Just search LinkedIn for “aspiring journalist”, if you can bear the bland millennial horror.

The business is full of rich bastards’ idiot children slumming it. While you’re hung over in your grotty shared flat on Saturday morning, these day-trippers are sipping champers at mummy and daddy’s house in the countryside, laughing about how silly it is to have to work.

The media and publishing have a small and ever-decreasing workforce. Technological developments have wiped out whole grades of workers over the last few decades. Do you even know why the press was called the ‘hot metal’ business, or what a Linotype operator did?

Nowadays in print journalism reporters do the work that sub-editors used to do, while the subs do the work of the typesetters. In web journalism there aren’t any subs any more.

It’s really not as fun as you think

If you dream of being the the next Carl Bernstein or Bob Woodward, uncovering a scandal as great as Watergate, you’d better wake up. Even if you work for the national media, you’ll spend most of your time editing agency copy about grubby crime stories or captioning picture galleries of cute animals or ‘property porn’.

You’ll probably start off at a local paper, writing stories on the mayor opening a new library or ‘breaking’ traffic jam updates with a blurred mobile phone photo of a broken-down van. Or you might just end up working for a trade or hobby magazine like Chartered Accountant or The Ringing World.

My highpoint of working as international editor at the Morning Star was probably when I ‘broke’ the Bridge International Academies (BIA) story in the UK.

I didn’t do any legwork, I just got the report and press release from Education International, the teaching trade union federation who’d had one of their staff working undercover for BIA in Africa. I was the one who broke the story here because no other media outlet was interested in a story criticising Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Pierre Omidyar, until I gave it coverage.

If you think you’re going to be a crusader for some political agenda, forget it. Even the ‘alternative’ media have very tight editorial lines. You’d be very surprised to find out who’s untouchable in the leftwing press.

It’s a lot of stress for no thanks

The stereotype of the alcoholic journalist is sadly very true. Having to deliver sensational stories to series of tight deadlines throughout the day will do that to you.

I’ve often left the newsroom at the end of a shift drained but with my head still buzzing, ears burning and teeth grinding. The easiest thing to do is head to the nearest pub with your workmates and spill out some bile over a few drinks.

It catches up with you in the end. I’ve seen colleagues throw sickies every week to lighten the load, burst into tears or just crack up and quit.

Everyone else in the game is mad, bad or dangerous to work with

All that stress can make people hard to work with too. Colleagues with snap at you and your editors will blame you when things go wrong. Shouted arguments are common in the newsroom.

Office politics can be perilous. If you get on the wrong side of the boss’s favourites, you can end up being ostracised or victimised. I’ve seen it.

You need a thick skin and eyes in the back of your head in this business.

You’ll end up praying for war

Sex sells, and if it bleeds it leads. The media depend on titillation and morbidity to attract readers and viewers.

You might go into the profession with a head full of high ideals and pure ethics, but after the frustration and boredom a couple of slow news days you’ll find your wishing for a nice juicy celebrity kiss-and-tell or a good bloody war with lots of civilian casualties and refugees. You’ll see.

Return the gold to Venezuela

by Francisco Dominguez

On July 2nd 2020 British Judge Nigel Teare, with regard to a Central Bank of Venezuela litigation for 31 tons of gold entrusted to the Bank of England to be returned to the Venezuelan state, issued a verdict in favour of ‘interim president” Juan Guaidó.

The real Venezuelan government has proposed that the gold was given to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to be administered so it was used to purchase food, medicine and vital health inputs. Such a guarantee has not been demanded of Mr Guaidó.

The spurious grounds on which Teare’s verdict is based are essentially that Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) of the UK, “whatever the basis for the recognition”, has “unequivocally recognised Mr Guaidó as President of Venezuela.” Thus the UK Court rules in favour of Mr Guaidó because HMG recognised him as ‘interim president’ because in turn he invoked Article 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution.

But Justice Teare’s verdict is based on a fabricated interpretation of Article 233 used by Guaidó to declare the Presidency “vacant”, hence his self-proclamation. Article 233 states:

The President of the Republic shall become permanently unavailable to serve by reason of any of the following events: death; resignation; removal from office by decision of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice; permanent physical or mental disability certified by a medical board designated by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice with the approval of the National Assembly; abandonment of his position, duly declared by the National Assembly; and recall by popular vote.

President Maduro is alive, has not resigned, has not been removed from office, is not physically or mentally incapacitated, has not abandoned the Presidency, and has not been recalled by popular vote. Furthermore, the very notion of ‘interim presidency’ does not exist in the Venezuelan Constitution.

HMG’s utterances on Venezuela’s domestic crisis are full of high-flying rhetoric (‘democracy’, ‘free elections’, ‘legitimacy’, ‘human rights’ and so forth) but the true reason for Guaidó’s recognition was revealed by The Canary journalist, John McEvoy, who, resorting to the Freedom of Information Act, reported on a secretive Foreign Office “Unit for the Reconstruction of Venezuela”, set up in collusion with the ‘self proclaimed’ and which involved his “ambassador to the UK”, Venezuelan-US citizen, Vanessa Neumann.

As early as May 2019, Neumann wrote to FCO officials that she had contacted Rory Stewart at DFID for a meeting that “will sustain British business in Venezuela’s reconstruction”; the discussions also included “Venezuela debt restructuring.”

Thus, HMG extended recognition for Mr Guaidó as laying the ground to fully participate in the spoils once and if US policy of ‘regime change’ came to fruition. The irony is that Jeremy Hunt, in his official Guaidó recognition statement – probably at the same time he said he was “delighted to cooperate with the US on freezing Venezuelan gold deposits in the BoE” – charged the government of President Maduro with being “kleptocratic”. A typical UK colonial pillage operation disguised as altruistic concern motivated by ethical political principles.

Venezuelan presidential pretender Juan Guaidó speaks at a rally as part of his first failed coup attempt on February 2 2019, asis wife Fabiana Rosales holds up an icon of the Virgin Mary.

Mr Guaidó is not only thoroughly discredited in Venezuela, where he enjoys little support, but substantial sections of the opposition have publicly broken with him and have constructively engaged with President Maduro in creating the best conditions for the coming elections to the National Assembly on 6th December 2020, which includes a new agreed National Electoral Council. After that there will be not even be fictional basis for the UK, the US or the EU to continue recognising Guaidó. Thus, with sublime hypocrisy, Trump excepted, Europe and the UK de facto recognise the Bolivarian government: they all, including the UK, have ambassadors in Caracas who have presented their credentials to President Maduro in public ceremonies.

After a recent diplomatic spat with Maduro, the EU applied sanctions on 11 Venezuelans, including opposition politicians who favour elections, dialogue, and who oppose Guaidó’s sanctions, violent ‘regime change’ and external interference, leading the latter to expel the EU ambassador. A joint communiqué by Jorge Arreaza and Josep Borrell, foreign ministers of Venezuela and the EU respectively, resolved it. They “agreed to promote diplomatic contacts between the parties at the highest level, within the framework of sincere cooperation and respect for international law.”

Given his farcical ‘self-proclamation’, Guaidó’s democratic credibility has been highly dubious – if he ever had any. Since then he has associated himself with Colombian narco-paramilitaries; used paramilitary force to try and control Venezuelan territory in preparation for external (US) forces to invade; staged a failed coup seeking to oust the Maduro government by force; contracted US mercenaries to carry out an attack on the presidential palace and kidnap and/or assassinate President Maduro and high government officials; and he and his entourage reek of corruption, leading many to resign in disgust.

Guaidó’s “presidency” unequivocally controls nothing, not even a street lamp in Venezuela. He is just a device for the pillage of his country’s vast wealth. Does the UK government seriously intend to hand over Venezuela’s gold to such a felonious character? Likewise, why do European countries continue to recognise such a repellent and corrupt US proxy?

The Central Bank of Venezuela will appeal seeking to reverse Judge Teare’s decision so that the gold can be returned to its rightful owners ( and through the UNDP can be used to continue saving lives against the pandemic. Retaining illegally these resources from Venezuela in the middle of the pandemic is denying the human rights of 32 million ordinary, Chavista and non-Chavista, Venezuelans.

Dr Francisco Dominguez
Dr Francisco Dominguez is a senior lecturer at Middlesex University, where he is head of the Research Group on Latin America. He is National Secretary of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign. Dominguez came to Britain in 1979 as a Chilean political refuge. Ever since he has been active on Latin American issues, about which he has written and published extensively. He is co-author of Right wing politics in the New Latin America (Zed Books).


Black Lives Matter a lot in Cuba … since 1959

Cuban culture vigorously celebrates its African-ness

by Francisco Dominguez

When in 1868, Cuban slave-owner Manuel de Céspedes embarked on a 10-year nationalist uprising against Spain, the colonial master, he did not imagine he would be building not only the political bases of an independent Cuba but also the ideological blocks of a new Cuban identity.

Scholars correctly point out that Ten Years War (1868-78) turned out to be the “crucible of mass [Cuban] nationalism” since for the first time ever “blacks and whites… joined together” in the struggle for independence. About 70 percent of the fighters and officers were black or mulatto, and therefore, racist concerns that could make Cuba another Haiti, arose among the reluctant pro-independence white elite. In the second independence war (1895-98) Blacks may have contributed with over 85 percent of the rank and file soldiers, thus exacerbating white elite misgivings about independence.

It is well known that Cuba’s elite, upon being conceded a heavily US-protected independence in 1903, robbed blacks of the fruits of the victory they did more than anybody else to achieve. They were excluded from the police force (officers “had to be White, with fucking blue eyes…” – ex-slave in 1968 interview), but also from the civil service, parliament, and from just about every public sphere. Thus black people rebelled against discrimination in 1912, which was brutally crushed with about 3,000 of them were slaughtered.

Thus by 1959, on the eve of Fidel’s Revolution, the Black population was overwhelmingly poor, were overrepresented among the prison population, had the lowest educational levels, including high levels of illiteracy and chronic unemployment, inhabited squalid lodgements and neighbourhoods or tenements (solares), and were de facto discriminated in every other sphere of social, political and cultural life, which included even public spaces such as parks, i.e. they suffered from institutionalised racism. The promise of equality proclaimed by the republic was by 1959 thoroughly unfulfilled, despite formal laws that abstractly condemned racism and discrimination.

Additionally all forms of discrimination were abolished by the Cuban Revolution starting from an open debate on the issue

Fidel’s revolution ensured full employment on egalitarian bases, many of the jobs created where in industry, social services, health, education and high technology sectors, which recruited year after large number of skilled labour that the comprehensive, universal and free education system was churning out, year in, year out. The significance of this was monumental since by 1959 Cuba’s Black population was about half of the total. In this period 106 social programmes were implemented and instituted.

Cuba has contributed in very practical ways to the liberation struggle of Algeria, Ghana, Congo, Mozambique, Angola, Namibia, South Africa, and a few others

Additionally all forms of discrimination were abolished by the Cuban Revolution starting from an open debate on the issue to which Fidel invited intellectuals, academics, activists, workers, social organizations, members of political parties, and others. Among the many conclusions and decisions coming out of the debate came books, articles, and the promotion of important national and international events in Black History. The constitution prohibits any form of discrimination based on race, gender or ethnic origin, and all relevant institutions educate Cubans from a tender age on the ethical and philosophical principles that all human beings are equal.  Cuban culture vigorously celebrates its African-ness through music, carnivals, and the very widespread practice of Santería, an Afro-Cuban religion brought by slaves to Cuba in the 17th century.

José Antonio Aponte Ulabarra
José Antonio Aponte Ulabarra

Many Black men and women since 1959, have had access to the highest levels of politics, science, education, technology and social life in general. A former British MP struck a powerful chord when he said this truth: Cuba is the only country on earth where the daughter of a sugar cane cutter, could become a medical doctor. Yet some racist social and cultural attitudes persist, but they pale into insignificance compared to advanced countries, such as the U.S. or the U.K. The current Cuban government led by Miguel Diaz-Canel has launched a comprehensive government programme, called Aponte Commission, after José Antonio Aponte, leader of the 1812 slave rebellion, to combat it. Unlike ‘civilized’ countries where statues for slave traffickers and racist generals have been erected.

Cuba is the only country on earth where the daughter of a sugar cane cutter, could become a medical doctor.

And, there is the role socialist Cuba has played in Africa, where its manifestations of solidarity have, on more than one occasion risked the very existence of the revolution itself, such as in Angola both in 1975 and 1987 when Fidel, at the request of the MPLA pro-independence movement requested military assistance, of which he sent sufficient to defeat both Western powers intervention and Apartheid South African elite troops.

Cuba has contributed in very practical ways to the liberation struggle of Algeria, Ghana, Congo, Mozambique, Angola, Namibia, South Africa, and a few others. No wonder, the very first country Nelson Mandela visited after its release from prison in 1991,even though he received red-carpet invitations to many ‘weighty’ countries in the world, was Cuba. At the gigantic rally held in Havana to welcome him Mandela said:

The Cuban people hold a special place in the hearts of the people of Africa. The Cuban internationalists have made a contribution to African independence, freedom, and justice, unparalleled for its principled and selfless character.From its earliest days the Cuban revolution has itself been a source of inspiration to all freedom-loving people.”

Yes, for Socialist Cuba Black Lives Do Matter.

Dr Francisco Dominguez is a senior lecturer at Middlesex University, where he is head of the Research Group on Latin America. He is National Secretary of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign. Dominguez came to Britain in 1979 as a Chilean political refuge. Ever since he has been active on Latin American issues, about which he has written and published extensively. He is co-author of Right wing politics in the New Latin America, Zed Books.

New government, same old policies

by Eugene McCartan

Image: new Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin, leader of the Fianna Fail party.

SO, AFTER months of shadow-boxing and pretend negotiations, three parties—Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and the Green Party—have eventually tied the knot and will set up house together.

They have been leading the public on a merry dance, in the pretence that they had worked hard to “overcome major obstacles,” etc. The press dutifully recorded the “tensions” and “difficulties” over the last few months.

Finally, all the parties involved showed great “maturity,” and in the “national interest” Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael set aside their historical differences, stepped up to the mark, and formed a government, with the Green Party giving the pretence that this was a new departure and a complete break from the past.

But the policies will be the same: to give priority to the interests of the market and big business, both national and transnational; tax cuts for the wealthy and professional classes; deeper involvement in EU military strategies and adventurism, and Shannon Airport still used as a staging post for US and NATO wars of aggression.

There will be a further erosion of workers’ rights, while precarious employment and zero-hour contracts will remain central factors in the lives of hundreds of thousands of workers, mainly young people and women.

While there may be a brief honeymoon period to get this three-party coalition bedded in, there will be little change in direction on economic and social policies. The Green Party will provide the political cover and a greenwash to mask further attacks on workers and their families.

The building of additional “social and affordable” housing is no different from what was proposed by the outgoing single-party government of Fine Gael. The priority will be to strengthen the position of private builders and property speculators, and private and corporate landlords. The provision of public housing at an affordable rent will never be allowed to compete with private rent speculation.

Public lands will be given away, on the promise that a small number of social and affordable homes will be built. The situation is made worse by the recent decision by AIB [Allied Irish Banks] not to approve mortgages or take into consideration income derived from welfare payments and to actively reject someone whose employment they consider precarious. This can only be overcome by a massive subsidy from the state in relation to who qualifies for “affordable housing,” so facilitating a huge transfer of public wealth to banks and builders.

The same will happen in the sphere of public health. There will be much talk of increased and more targeted investment in the public system; but in reality the provision of private health and private health insurance will be the cornerstone of state policy. The state will push more public patients through the private health system, paying exorbitant premiums to corporate medical interests.

The treatment of all the nurses and doctors who returned home from abroad to help during the Covid crisis and were then told to stand down shows that the government has little interest in expanding the public health system.

The same goes for the “green agenda” and a reduction in carbon emissions: these are all aspirational and will be put off until the next government. The powerful corporate farming interests and the agrifood industries still decide agricultural policy—certainly not family farmers. They may well be thrown under the bus as a sacrifice to keep the Green Party on board.

The strategy since the outcome of the last general election has been to control and corral the people’s desire for change into safe blind alleys and institutional control.

Now is the time for people to begin to mobilise, to push forward their agenda and not allow the powerful economic and hence political forces to decide the future of our country. Working people voted for change through the ballot box; it cannot be realised by simply allowing political and economic struggle to be mediated through state institutions.

What will decidedly change the political conditions and force the necessary deep economic and social change is for working people to mobilise to advance our own interests.

The challenge for the left and the trade union movement is to mobilise the people on clear goals: on universal public housing built by a national building company, a single-tier, universally free public health system, a strategy for creating jobs, and the control of capital to ensure targeted investment to meet the people’s needs and not for profit or speculative purposes.

Time to put working people first!

This article originally appeared in the July 2020 issue of Socialist Voice.

Two Poems

by Charlie Mann

A Storm

A storm is brewing.

Rain is sudden, heavy,

falling with shadows,

a thunder of echoes

on the horizon.

The summer air is thick

and slow, waiting

to be moved by

a long awaited wind.

Soon, raised hands will

feel the change of the

breeze, and breaths

will taste the scent

of the flowers that

no-one could cut.

Call and Response

We speak of the earth

with the same breath

that we speak of home.

These are our lands.

They grow in our spirit

and we grow.

They die by our hand

and we follow.

Charlie Mann is a technical assistant. He lives and works in Surrey, amid the rolling hills. He can be found on Twitter @fromgreenink between frequent crises.

Image by Maxime Reynal.

Taking Power in Guyana

PPP/C must seize the day

by James Tweedie

Guyanese caretaker president David Granger still refuses to admit defeat in elections almost four months ago. But the winning People’s Progressive Party/Civic seems reluctant to force a transition of power, despite the support of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

Last week the GECOM chair, former justice Claudette Singh, finally declared the PPP/C and its president-elect Dr Irfaan Ali the winners on the basis of a recount held weeks after the March 2 election.

In doing so she rejected Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield’s ‘summary of observations report’ that sought to invalidate some 60 per cent of the 460,000 ballots cast.

Lowenfield’s report backed debunked claims of voter fraud by officials from the APNU+AFC coalition that is dominated by Granger’s People’s National Congress party.

Granger’s victory over sitting PPP/C president Donald Ramotar in 2015 was marred by vote-rigging allegations, and that the PNC used ballot fraud and emergency powers to hold onto power from 1968 to 1992.

Following Singh’s ruling, APNU promptly switched tack from claiming fraud to ensuring last Thursday’s GECOM meeting to declare the result would be inquorate.

Two of the three government-nominated commission members failed to attend the meeting without explanation. For the commission to be quorate, two members appointed by the president and two by the opposition must be present. Lowenfield also failed to attend and report the final vote tally as he is required to.

However, article 226 of the constitution states that if the meeting is still inquorate after being adjourned for two days, on the third day it can go ahead without that quorum. But legal moves prevented that from happening.

That same Thursday, a motion was heard at the Court of Appeal on behalf of Eslyn David, a resident of the Sophia district of the capital Georgetown, to prevent GECOM from declaring the result.

Dr Ali called Ms David an “APNU proxy”, while the pro-PPP/C iNews Guyana said she was an APNU “supporter.” Whether she is or not, the court has since ruled that it has jurisdiction over the matter, which APNU+AFC celebrated.

On Monday the appeals court interpreted section 177 (2) (b) of the Guyanese constitution to mean that the party with the most “valid” votes shall be declared the winner – resurrecting the vote-rigging claim yet again.

The PPP/C then appealed to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), the judicial arm of the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) regional bloc of English-speaking nations.

CARICOM’s outgoing and incoming Chairpersons, Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley and Ralph Gonsalves, PM of St Vincent and the Grenadines, have both urged Granger to accept defeat.

But yesterday the CCJ restrained GECOM from declaring the result until a second hearing set for July 1 – four months on from polling day.

This reversal of fortune at the hands of the CCJ’s panel of judges highlights the perils of going to court for that which is rightfully yours in the first place – it might just hand it over to those trying to rob you.

Guyana’s neighbour Venezuela has made a similar gamble with stakes of £800 million pounds of national gold reserves held by the Bank of England.

The UK government effectively seized the bullion as part of its support – alongside the EU and US – for opposition leader Juan Guaidó’s baseless claim to the presidency over elected socilaist President Nícolas Maduro.

The Central Bank of Venezuela went to the High Court in London this week, not to demand the return of its rightful property but for them to be transferred to the UN Development Fund to buy “healthcare equipment, medicines and basic foodstuffs” for the South American nation.

The Bank of England’s case is that it is “caught in the middle” between the legitimate Venezuelan authorities and Guaidó’s “ad hoc” board. But who’s to say the High Court won’t just hand the fortune over to Guaidó’s gang of putschists in Washington?

The PPP/C, the movement that led Guyana to independence in the 1950s and 60s, won the election fair and square. The Washington-based Organisation of American States said yesterday GECOM already has “a result based on the valid votes cast” and “this election has gone on long enough.”

Yet both hesitate to act decisively and end this crisis that threatens to return their country to the bad old days.

Guyana: Waiting for Granger to Go

Democracy delayed is democracy denied

by James Tweedie

Today is the 40th anniversary of the murder of Guyanese revolutionary writer Walter Rodney, a crime his family still believe was ordered by then prime minister Forbes Burnham.

Three months – and a ballot recount – after the March 2nd general election, Burnham’s People’s National Congress (PNC) still refuses to cede power to the winning People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) that led Guyana’s liberation from colonial rule.

Opposition voters have likened the situation to the quarter-century of elections rigged in favour of the PNC following the South American country’s independence from Britain in 1966.

Despite the recount showing a narrow victory for the PPP/C, President David Granger is still squatting in the State House in the capital Georgetown at the head of an interim government.

Granger’s PNC, founded by Burnham after he split from Cheddi Jagan’s PPP in 1958, leads the APNU coalition that narrowly won the 2015 election amid allegations of vote-rigging.

Later that year, Granger halted a commission of inquiry into Rodney’s killing, launched in 2014 by PPP/C president Donald Ramotar.

PPP/C leader and unofficial president-elect Dr Irfaan Ali told the country in a Thursday broadcast that his party stood ready to reverse the economic downturn afflicting all sectors of the economy – especially sugar, Guayana’s main export.

Ali said his government “will ensure the productive sector gets back going, to have the right mix of incentives and measures …to bring back energy to the economy, to reignite construction and to rebuild confidence in Guyana.

Ali condemned Granger for refusing the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s May 15 request for a government bailout.

“The sugar sector is not on the verge of collapsing any more, but is now in total financial chaos, the government has announced that there is no money for the industry.”

Ali accused Granger of squandering nearly £400 million of public money during his term. “The Government has basically overspent $100 billion, which resulted in the domestic debt skyrocketing and has led to a large fiscal deficit,” he said.

In 2016, Granger allowed ExxonMobil to drill for oil in territorial waters off the western Essequibo region, a territory claimed by Venezuela since the 19th century.

But Guyana’s corruption watchdog the State Assets Recovery Agency launched a probe into the contracts last year, a move former president Ramotar supported. The PPP/C has pledged to make sure Guyana’s oil wealth benefits all its people.

The Guyana Elections Commission (Gecom) continues to delay the official announcement of the result, resisting calls by the Commonwealth, Organisation of American States (OAS) and regional bloc CARICOM.

In 2017 the PPP/C protested after Granger broke the 1992 agreement, brokered by former US president Jimmy Carter, for the sitting president to accept opposition nominations to Gecom.

This week News Room Guyana interviewed six PPP/C voters who APNU election agent Anna Ferguson claimed were out of the country on election day – a claim the workers, farmers and fishermen denied.

One of them, pump operator Hemant Vivikanan, does not even own a passport. He said the accusation reminded him of the stolen elections of the 70s and 80s – and lamented that his children witnessed the same fraud in their lifetimes.

Last weekend Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Scotland, a former British attorney general, said her office “continues to pay close attention to the electoral process in Guyana and commends the people of Guyana for their patience during the recount process.”

Meanwhile APNU General Secretary Joseph Harmon rejected the OAS election report’s statement that “the people of Guyana have been patient and they now deserve a peaceful transition of Government based on the majority vote,” calling it “interference” and hoping CARICOM would back Gecom.

But Ralph Gonsalves, the new CARICOM chair and prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, said on Thursday that the bloc “will not stand idly by and watch the recount which was properly done… be set aside.

“CARICOM is not going to tolerate anyone stealing an election.”

Gonsalves advised Granger: “If you lose, as Sir Arthur [Lewis] said, ‘take your licks like a man’.”

Lewis was the St Lucian-born economist who served as an advisor to Ghanaian independence leader Kwame Nkrumah, drawing up the West African nation’s first five-year economic plan in 1957. He later served as the first president of the Caribbean Development Bank.

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