Guyana’s Consul General to New York

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By Rickford Burke

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. July 10, 2012: The New York-based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy and Guyanese New Yorkers are disappointed in the poor performance of Guyana’s Consul General to New York, Brentnol Evans.

Except for the ruling People’s Progressive Party’s political base in Queens, Mr. Evans appears to be “alien” to the wider Guyanese community. His representation has been mediocre, unabashedly partisan and an embarrassment to Guyana. We therefore demand that he be recalled by the Guyana government.
I enjoy good relations with Mr. Evans and regret having to take a stand against him. But I believe the interest of the Guyanese community must transcend personal relationships.

It is a national ignominy for the PPP government to have retained Mr. Evans in the position of Consul General in New York for nineteen years. A 19-year diplomatic posting is unprecedented, absurd and unethical. No country retains a diplomat at a post this long as it will undoubtedly compromise that individual’s judgment, ethics and competency.

Mr. Evans’ cavalier approach to executing his responsibilities; ridiculously extensive tenure; unwarranted partisanship and mediocre representation have relegated Guyana to a laughing stock in New York’s diplomatic community.

Mr. Evans does not participate in activities in the Guyanese community. Neither does he participate in activities in the Caribbean-American community. I haven’t seen him in our community for years. Worst, the Guyana consulate is seldom represented at official events where other Caricom countries are represented by their full complement of diplomatic staff; including UN Ambassadors and Consuls General.

This public expression of outrage was precipitated by Guyana’s no-show at a host of the 2012 Caribbean American Heritage Month celebrations. There were dozens of events at Brooklyn Borough Hall, New York City and in Albany. The Guyanese government and people were not represented at any of these events. The recurring question was: “Where is Guyana’s representative?”

This is a disgrace for the country in which the Caribbean Community (Caricom) is headquartered.New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as well as the State Assembly and Senate on June 19th, hosted Caribbean-American leaders as well as members of the CARICOM corps of Consul General at the State Capitol in Albany to honor the contributions of Caribbean-Americans to development of the State. Governor Cuomo signed a proclamation honoring Caribbean nationals and the Senate and Assembly adjourned regular business to honor our rich heritage and legacy. Sadly, again, Guyana was not represented at any of these events.

On June 29th, the NYPD in collaboration with the Caricom corps of Consul General held a celebration of Caribbean Heritage month at the New York City Technical College. Guyana was not acknowledged as a Caricom member country nor was its flag on display. When Brooklyn’s Deputy Borough President, Sandra Chapman, who is also Guyanese, and I objected and inquired about Guyana non-representation, we were advised by the Consul General of Trinidad and Tobago that Guyana had declined to participate.

The refusal to participate in this event was irresponsible, offensive and perilous to Caribbean unity. No individual can be allowed to make such a determination for the more than 400,000 Guyanese living in New York State. Mr. Evans is not here to represent the PPP and its supporters. He represents the government and people of Guyana. Thus, his temperament renders him unsuitable to maintain his office as Consul General.

There have been perennial complaints about the lack of representation by the consulate. Many of us have over the years been quietly attempting to get the consulate to be responsive and address this failure. Obviously our diplomatic efforts have failed and the situation has now reached a nadir.
I reject such backward, mediocre representation of my homeland – representation that appears to be rooted in identity politics. We are a proud people with an illustrious heritage and single identity – the ‘Guyanese identity.’ Therefore we cannot allow partisans with narrow agendas to diminish and bring dishonor to Guyana in such crude fashion.

We know that the PPP government has a history of ethnocratic governance and subjugating the rights of African-Guyanese. But it is unpatriotic, unethical and unprofessional for a ‘so-called’ diplomat, acting as a house-slave, to be so partisan and exclusionary in the execution of his duties.
It is therefore with regret that I call on President Donald Ramotar and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, to recall Consul General Evans, and to replace him with a diplomat who genuinely understands the value of representing all Guyanese and transcending partisan politics.

Rickford Burke is President of the Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy.