US embassy officials accept and draw conclusions from any rumour presented to them

Dear Editor,

The only true revelation that emerged from the WikiLeaks cables is that the US practises an outdated and antiquated foreign policy towards Guyana.

In 2008, I wrote a letter to the editor where I argued that the US should cease accepting applications for business and tourist non-immigrant visas if the processing system at the time was maintained. Under that system, the local embassy issues those visas without the aid of any supporting documentation or evidence to determine whether an applicant satisfies Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of the United States, where the applicant has to show that he or she has a permanent residence in his/her home country and which he/she has no intention of abandoning. This practice borders on absurdity and the interviewing officer merely goes with instinct and guesswork in determining who qualifies for a visa.
Unfortunately, that system is still in place today. Fast forward to the WikiLeaks cables and we see a similar type of unsubstantiated approach being played out in how the officials of the embassy arrive at conclusions in official foreign policy correspondence with the State Department. These cables form the basis on which US foreign policy decisions are determined towards this country.

One would have thought that the US government would have had a resolute system of verification to determine whether data and information received meet the minimum threshold of validation. However, this does not seem to be the case and the officials go with whatever rumour or wobbly evidence is presented to them and make dead set conclusions therefrom.
As it relates to commercial diplomacy towards Guyana, I would echo the sentiments as expressed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her remarks at the US Global Leadership Coalition on July 12, 2011, in which she asserted to the audience: “We need to up our game,” in relation to achieving an effective commercial diplomacy that would enable the US to become more globally competitive in light of a new international economic landscape.

I sincerely hope that this call for an elevated level of economic discourse is heard loud and clear in Kingston, Georgetown.  Only recently, I had approached the embassy through the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce about the possibility of investing in the US and I’m yet to receive a response, after more than 5 months, from the commercial officials stationed there. This type of lackadaisical approach towards our business community is unsatisfactory.

The new US Ambassador has to reassess some of the current systems in place at the embassy and work towards implementing ones that are based on mutual respect and engagement between the peoples of the US and Guyana.

Yours faithfully,
Clinton Urling

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