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Asunto:Brasil / Guyana: El punto e vista Guyanes
Fecha:Lunes, 11 de Septiembre, 2000  15:18:58 (-0400)
Autor:anna ponte <anaponte @...net>

"Stabroek News" 
(Georgetown, Guyana) 
 
                     Editorial SN 06 Sept. 2000 
                       The deep-water harbour 
We have moved almost imperceptibly from talk of the Brazil- 
Georgetown road, to talk of a deep water harbour. Documents such  
as the National Development Strategy and the draft Poverty  
Reduction Strategy Paper appear to have adopted the concept  
uncritically, and now we have President Jagdeo reported as saying  
that the government was looking at creating "an integrated corridor  
of infrastructure using Guyana as a trans-shipment point." 
 
It is not that in the end we will not have to move towards this goal;  
it is just that we are putting the cart before the horse. Becoming a  
trans-shipment zone for the behemoth on our southern frontier has a  
variety of implications which first have to be weighed very carefully.  
Yet here we are, doing no homework, and just blithely assuming that  
becoming northern Brazil's main artery to the Caribbean holds  
nothing but benefits for us. 
 
It surely has benefits for Brazil, which already has the arterial  
network in place in the Rio Branco to take advantage of it. It would  
be so much easier and cheaper for the state of Roraima, for example,  
to import and export through the 'corridor' than via the present  
cumbersome connections within Brazil itself. This proposed new  
route even Sao Paulo, apparently, could utilize, not to mention the  
state of Para, which could link to Roraima with infinitely greater ease  
via the Guianas than it can at present. In other words, Guyana would  
become northern Brazil's main link to the outside world, and the  
volume of container traffic which would go thundering along this  
country's highways would be of an order that in our present semi- 
reclusive state we can hardly even conceive of. 
 
Brazil has other interests apart from the purely economic. With her  
huge land mass, large population and growing economy, she will  
eventually win her permanent seat on the Security Council. In our  
hemisphere she is the true heavyweight player, but she does not, yet,  
have an outlet to the Caribbean, the fulcrum of the Americas. A route  
through Guyana would make her a Caribbean power. (She currently  
has an outlet through Venezuela, but that does not serve the purpose,  
for obvious reasons.) 
 
It might also be noted that a Guyana fully integrated into our  
southern neighbour's communication networks would be a tempting  
proposition for the army of garimpeiros which has invaded various  
parts of the Amazon, as well as the peasant farmers from the arid  
north-east of Brazil, ever in search of land. If Brazil would not  
actually encourage settlement here, she probably would not be very  
active in helping to arrest it, maintaining that it was our problem. 
 
She would benefit in two ways: firstly, it would relieve some of the  
population pressure in her north-east, and secondly, it would alter the  
demography of this country, with Brazilians, or their descendants,  
becoming a significant element in our population, with all that that  
implies.  
 
So what would Guyana get out of it? Everyone assumes that it will be  
economic development, but it may not be of a sort that does us too  
much good. The dangers are clear enough, even if both sides of the  
political divide are refusing to acknowledge what those are.  
 
One of those dangers has already been touched on - the change in  
the composition of the population, and by extension, the undermining  
of sovereignty. The influx from the south would include a variety of  
Brazilian businesses which would inevitably sprout up all along the  
corridor to service the container trade, and which would spawn the  
interior settlements with their 'discos' and prostitutes and the like.  
There would be the inevitable degradation of parts of the hinterland,  
and the compromising of the integrity of Amerindian society, with the  
exploitation of its members. It is not as if we do not have a model for  
what happens in such situations; Brazil itself with the experience of  
the trans-Amazonian highway supplies evidence aplenty if anyone  
cares to look for it. 
 
And could our businessmen really organize themselves to compete  
that quickly? Probably not. Brazilian enterprises would start to  
dominate along the coast as well - especially around the deep-water  
harbour. 
 
And then there is the problem of the drugs. Even if we escape  
becoming a major processing centre (and we might not) we will surely  
become a major trans-shipment route. We can't manage our present  
drug problem, so how on earth does the Government propose to  
manage when we become a major export zone like Venezuela? 
 
The truth is that currently we do not have control of our interior and  
we do not have control of our borders. Until we have, we should not  
be opening ourselves up to an invasion - however benign - from  
outside. We need a road to Lethem in order to integrate Guyana, but  
not one as yet which would serve the Brazilians. Everything should  
be done in planned stages. Only when we are in a position to  
implement restrictions on development along the corridor, monitor it  
effectively, and man the borders efficiently, should we begin to look  
at the next stage involving trans-shipment for containers.  
 
Lastly, we need to look at the geo-strategic implications carefully if  
we are to become a 'sphere of influence of Brazil'. It may not prove  
the counterweight to Venezuela which we had anticipated.