On Wednesday, United States (U.S.) Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the U.S. will be revoking visas from individuals “responsible for or complicit in undermining democracy in Guyana.” Pompeo, apart from calling on incumbent President David Granger to accept the democratic elections results and “step aside”, disclosed that the visa restrictions will also affect the immediate family members of those persons undermining democracy.
Giving his views on the foregoing was seasoned U.S. international trade and investment lawyer Bart Fisher, who was a recent guest on the Benschop Radio 107.1FM. Fisher pointed out that although the visa restrictions are not sanctions against the country, and just selected individuals who have been placed on the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list, it can end up hurting the man and woman in the street.
Fisher explained, “The problem with the visa restrictions that were announced is that it can end up hurting the man and woman in the street. And why is that? You know sanctions create a bad investment climate and will deter investors from coming into Guyana. I cannot imagine why the U.S. would want to do that and hurt the people of Guyana.”
He further explained that the imposition of visa restrictions are preparatory sanctions and the real problem is what sanctions might come next.
According to him, visa restriction is the denial of entry into the USA for whoever is placed on the SDN list. Fisher, however, asked, “Who wants to get on a plane and come to the United States for the next five months when we are in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic?”
While Fisher said he did not want to speculate the names of those persons from Guyana who might be on the SDN list, he noted a recent case in China where the U.S. had placed visa restrictions on the Chinese communist party for human rights violations.
“…So, if they [the U.S.] are mad at the Chief Elections Officer [Keith Lowenfield], they would think he is blocking democracy. Beyond that, I do not have no other clue because in GECOM you can really look at the Chairman [retired judge Claudette Singh] if she agrees with Lowenfield. So it remains to be seen who would be on that list.”
Fisher emphasized that all the visa restrictions means is a denial of entry into the United States. In the eyes of Fisher, the visa restrictions are “not that big of a deal” in real world practical terms because these are negligible sanctions.
“It is just what would come next, that is what would concern me,” he added.