US Secretary of State arrives in Guyana this evening

─ highest-ranking US official to visit since Independence

The United States Secretary of State Mr. Michael Pompeo is set to arrive this evening and will be the highest-ranking sitting government official to visit Guyana since its Independence in 1966.

The Secretary of State is said to be embarking on a South American tour aimed at highlighting the US’ commitment to safeguarding democracy, combating the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, revitalising economies and strengthening security against regional threats.

According to the US State Department, Mr. Pompeo will travel to Paramaribo, Suriname; Georgetown, Guyana; Boa Vista, Brazil; Bogota, Colombia and then return to Plano, Texas, USA. 

His tour of the region is scheduled from September 17-20.

Mr. Pompeo is scheduled to meet Suriname’s new President, the Hon. Chandrikapersad Santokhi, today before travelling to Guyana and will meet Guyana’s Head of State, His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali.

Mr. Pompeo will also hold talks with CARICOM Secretary-General, His Excellency Irwin LaRocque. 

According to the US Embassy in Georgetown, US policy towards Guyana seeks to develop robust, sustainable democratic institutions, laws, and political practices; support economic growth and development; promote an active, organised, and empowered civil society; and promote stability and security.

During the visit, the two counties are expected to sign bilateral agreements for future investments, as well as a deal for joint maritime patrols to combat the illicit narcotics trade.

The US recognised Guyana’s independence on May 26, 1966, with the establishment of the American Embassy in Georgetown. Mr. Delmar R. Carlson was the interim Chargé d’Affaires. Later in the 1980s, Guyana sought to improve relations with the US.

The US said it valued Guyana’s partnership and cooperation on issues of mutual interest. Together, the two countries have promoted democracy and respect for human rights.

In terms of assistance, the two countries have worked together and with other Caribbean nations through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) to combat drug trafficking and other transnational crimes that threaten regional security.

Both have also worked closely in the fight against HIV/AIDS through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) programme, as well as through other US agencies, like the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

Through its Public Affairs Section, there has been the development of people-to-people ties through exchange programmes.

Bilaterally and economically, the US continues to be one of Guyana’s most significant trading partners, and its military, medical, and engineering teams continue to conduct training exercises here.

Further, in May 2015, the US’s biggest energy company, ExxonMobil discovered a “significant” oil find off Guyana’s coast.

Mr. Pompeo, a former US Army officer and former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, is the 70th US Secretary of State.

He was one of several notable voices calling on the previous Guyana administration to adhere to the principles of democracy during the prolonged electoral process that followed the March 2 General and Regional Elections.  The US State Department had announced two rounds of visa cancellations to demonstrate its position that a Government in Guyana needed to be formed from a legitimate electoral process.