News Americas, GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Fri. July 4, 2014: On his last day in office Thursday, United States Ambassador to Guyana, Brent Hardt, took time to address the recent verbal assault unleashed on him by Guyana’s Minister of Education Priya Manickchand and the country’s acting minister of foreign affairs, at a celebration to mark the independence anniversary of the United States on July 2nd in Georgetown.
Hardt told the media yesterday that Manickchand’s public embarrassment of him at his residence on July 2nd was a personal attack intended to divert attention from issues that are paramount to the development of Guyana.
“I think you probably notice in the course of the attack, there was no substantive response to the issues that I raised,” Hardt said when approached for a comment on Thursday, July 3rd.
Minister Manickchand, representing the Guyana government at the reception, called the ambassador’s conduct ‘unprofessional and undiplomatic.’
Hardt has been pressuring the government of Guyana and President Donald Ramotar to set a date for the long overdue local government elections.
HARDT FAREWELL REMARKS
In his farewell remarks on July 2nd, Hardt again reiterated this push, noting that he is hopeful Guyana can “move forward right now to reestablish its long-neglected elected local government system.”
“As I have drawn closer to the end of my tenure, some have asked why I have persisted in advocating for local government elections. The answer, simply, is that the United States genuinely believes that such elections will be a transformative issue for Guyana. Local communities in Guyana are seeking the freedom, autonomy, and ability to explore ways to develop and prosper. People face all kinds of local challenges and they want workable solutions. Guyanese are innovative and creative, but they need the opportunity to cultivate their talents at the local level,” he stated.
“This lack of local outlets for the energies, talents, and creativity of the people has in turn led to a disconnect between people and governance – a problem exacerbated by the parliamentary list system. People don’t know where or to whom to turn to resolve their day-to-day problems. Citizens want to be able to play their part, to call upon a local leader and get action. Elected local government will give them that ability.”
Manickchand, speaking as a representative of the government, accused the ambassador of contributing “to a tension-filled relationship with the Government of Guyana.”
“These areas of tense relationships have attracted considerable efforts on our part to address oftentimes without much success. Ambassador Hardt’s most recent assault on the President and Government of Guyana in his remarks to the recently created NGO, the Blue Caps, has in our judgment, gone beyond the boundaries of professionalism and diplomacy. For a professional Foreign Service Office, with the appointment of an Ambassador, to make such declarations, accusations, allegations and innuendos about the Executive President of Guyana, or of any country for that matter, is to our mind, totally unacceptable,” she continued.
“Like his President, Barack Obama, there exists a red line. This Ambassador has crossed that line. Unlike his President, we are resolved, we have resolved and we so advise our partners, with whom we share conventions and symbiotic relations, this is our red line. Behaviour such as this would not be tolerated within the boundaries of mutual respect, diplomatic relations and inter-government collaboration,” the minister added.
HARDT STRESSES NO TENSION
Still despite the attack, Hardt the United States government is fully aware that it can make a real contribution and has been doing so over the years and intends to continue this trend.
“Our interest is to build a partnership with Guyana that is democratic, healthy, secure, safe and strong and we’re gonna continue doing that and we have a great embassy, I know I leave the country in very good hands and they will carry forward all the great works and partnership that we are engaged in,” the Ambassador said.
In Antigua for the 35th summit of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Summit, Guyana President Ramotar dismissed Ambassador, Brent Hardt’s comments. He told the CMC that the ambassador was acting “as if he is the governor in the country and not as an ambassador.”
“I think he would have properly done much better in doing his business as an ambassador,” Ramotar was quoted as saying. “However if he was so concerned about democracy, I think he should probably think about the fact that the United States has been passing laws in their Congress where Guyana nor the rest if the Caribbean doesn’t have a say but we are forced to implement those laws like the financial laws that they recently passed where banks must report American citizens who have their deposits here.”
Meanwhile, on Thursday, the Leader of the Opposition, A Partnership for National Unity, Brigadier David Granger expressed distress at Manickchand’s remarks, calling them “vulgar and worst than useless.”
APNU also called on President Donald Ramotar to disassociate his Administration “from these worthless remarks and issue an unconditional apology to H.E. Ambassador D. Brent Hardt and the people of the United States of America.”
“APNU is astonished that such remarks could be used by a Government Official in light of the cordial relationship existing between the Co-operative Republic of Guyana and the United States of America,” the statement added.
The Alliance For Change, another opposition party, also denounced the minister’s attack and called her behavior worst than “socially challenged.”
“Not only was the Republic embarrassed by the tone and sentiments expressed by the Minister but also the occasion and circumstances in which they were delivered were unforgivable,” the AFC added.