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Day 8: Corona thwarts our plans/Threats

Friday, 13th March, 2020

Woke up early, despite being tired. It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that now we have to make decisions regarding the Coronavirus. There’s already been a fatality in Guyana. So, the three of us spend the morning pulling out all the stops to get us back home as fast as possible. The embassy in Trinidad does in fact confirm that Denis and I are no longer able to enter Trinidad. There’s been a fatality there too, this time with a connection to Germany and now Germans who have been in Germany during the last 14 days are no longer allowed to enter. Luckily this does not apply to our filmmaker Tom, who hasn’t been there for months, but he’s worried he won’t make it to Fiji.

This means: discontinuing the trip, so we cancel all planned appointments. Denis and I are lucky to get a ticket to Barbados for tomorrow, followed by a flight to Frankfurt on Monday.

Our host arrives and says an article quoting me was printed in the “Stabroek News”. Together with over a hundred NGOs, Melinda, CIEL (Centre for International Environmental Law) and urgewald have initiated an appeal. With regard to the political crisis in the country following the election results, we call upon the oil companies, amongst other things, to solely recognize an officially appointed government. My critical quote is directed against the World Bank that last year continued its support of the oil industry in a politically instable situation and indirectly contributed to the present, critical state of the country after the election: “Instead of working towards ‘good governance’, the World Bank has helped undermine an already precarious political situation.”

The ambassador's business card
We have an interesting conversation with Guyana’s EU ambassador.

At short notice, and because of the election result issues, the EU ambassador Fernando Ponz Cantó postpones our appointment to the afternoon. We have a very pleasant conversation containing important information about the object and purpose of our trip. My announcement that urgewald is planning to organize an official delegation of EU parliament members to Guyana is noted with interest. On my part, I’m happy to hear that the EU M.P. Urmas Paet, who was leader of the official EU election observation mission in Guyana, would also be interested in exchanging information.

Later on, we meet at Melinda’s in order to skype with Heike Mainhardt and colleagues in Germany. She also has a long talk with a security firm to plan her protection. Melinda has been informed again that her public statements against the oil production have made her unsafe in Guyana and this is a warning we all take very seriously. More film recordings rounding off the documentary are made.

We take more films of the Exxon, World Bank and other representative offices in town and are busy till evening falls. Talking to our host and her husband, we learn more about the country and its population, receive important addresses and contacts. Tom, Denis, Luke and I spend our last evening together in the “Backyard CafĂ©â€, where we enjoy traditional Guyana dishes.