Guyana VP draws fire over T&T falling apart comment

Say what – Guyana?

Foreign Affairs Minister Amery Browne has spoken with Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister about a recent video featuring Guyana’s Vice President Bharath Jagdeo saying that “T&T is falling apart.”

Browne confirmed that yesterday.

The video featured on You Tube and several regional personalities’ Twitter feeds, showed Jagdeo speaking at a podium, reportedly much earlier in the week.

In the video, Jagdeo, addressing an audience, spoke about wanting to invest some of Guyana’s oil and gas resources into building the infrastructure in that country so the non-oil and gas sector in the future can generate the jobs there.

Jagdeo said, “Because if we don’t do that when the oil money goes, we’ll be poorer than many countries in the world.”

He continued, “Look at what’s happening in Trinidad now…Trinidad is falling apart, and that’s putting it mildly – falling apart!

“No jobs, sustained periods of negative growth and can’t see the light of day for the near future.”

Jagdeo’s comment stirred up concern among citizens that one Caricom state would make such bad remarks about a fellow Caricom country. Others felt Jagdeo should have found a better way to make his remark. Guyana Opposition MP Sherod Avery Duncan, on Twitter, wondered what “TT-Caricom brothers and sisters” would say on the issue.

And one person queried if Jagdeo and Miss T&T Jeanine Brandt, who was recently embroiled in controversy when she spoke of poverty in T&T, were living in the same house.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley didn’t respond to T&T Guardian queries on Jagdeo’s comments.

But Foreign Affairs Minister Browne said he had made a phone call about the matter.

“I have shared my view on this matter with Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-Operation, who is well-positioned to advise his government on matters of regional history, integration and respect which our foreparents worked so hard to achieve across this region. At this point, I have no further public comment,”

Energy Minister Stuart Young wasn’t available for comment yesterday. But top energy sources were concerned about the remarks.

One stated, “These utterances are very disappointing and ill-informed. To insult the people of Trinidad and Tobago in this manner is disturbing and doesn’t auger well for the spirit of Caricom.”

Political analyst Dr Bishnu Ragoonath said, “It put a nail further into the divide between the T&T and Guyana governments, especially since this (Jagdeo) government took office.”

However, Ragoonath said it was correct that T&T hadn’t had positive growth in the last few years and Bharath was making the strong point that Guyana must build their non-oil and gas sector to sustain themselves beyond that sector. Ragoonath noted T&T is even now “putting eggs in the same oil and gas basket based on what we saw in the last Budgets.”

Ragoonath added, “But it may not be in Caricom’s best interests to have said it like that and I’m not sure it will help ties between the two countries. I’m assuming he was speaking to a Guyanese audience emphasising the need for Guyana to diversify early rather than find themselves in a situation like T&T. It follows a lot of what Guyana’s been saying recently, including about having food security.

“ But I don’t think we have that critical unemployment problem at this point in time; we did lose some jobs in the pandemic but unemployment is not as high as it’s made out to be.”

However, Ragoonath indicated that while T&T might be critical of Jagdeo’s comments, PM Dr Keith Rowley hasn’t “exactly been building bridges,” with Guyana either. He noted Rowley’s outburst in Parliament on Wednesday, when the PM berated UNC MP Rodney Charles on always speaking about Guyana. Rowley had advised Charles he was free to go there if he wished.

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