Americas, Elections, New in Lobbying

Queens NGO joins lobbying fight over disputed Guyana elections

A New York NGO representing Guyanese-Americans has become the latest party to join the escalating lobbying fight over Guyana’s contested presidential election.

The Queens-based ​International Center for Democracy hired The Cormac Group for an undisclosed amount effective May 4 to lobby on US-Guyana relations, according to a recently disclosed lobbying filing. The Miami Herald reported last month that the firm was being hired to “engage US officials on the electoral crisis,” in which the NGO supports the opposition.

Former USAID Acting Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean Jose Cardenas, who also served on the National Security Council under President George W. Bush, is lobbying on the account along with Jonathan Slade.

Cormac joins Mercury Public Affairs and JJ&B in lobbying for US support as Guyanese electoral authorities conduct a recount of the March 2 general election marred by allegations of fraud. The result of the recount, which is being monitored by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), is expected by June 16.

One of Latin America’s poorest countries, Guyana stands to reap a windfall from the discovery of oil off its Atlantic coastline. Post-election turmoil however has caused a political crisis, with President David Granger declaring victory over the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) in an election that US and European officials say “lacked credibility and transparency.”

Opposition leader and former president Bharrat Jagdeo spoke at the International Center for Democracy’s launch in 2017. Jagdeo’s party previously hired Mercury under a $150,000 contract signed in March 2019 for strategic services “in connection with issues relating to the anticipated general and regional elections.”

Meanwhile, the ruling APNU + AFC Coalition hired JJ&B for $40,000 per month in April 2020 to lobby on “on issues related to the electoral disputes now confronting Guyana.” A similar filing filed a month earlier indicated that JJ&B had been retained by the government itself, which caused an uproar in Guyana over the potential use of state funds to support one side in the electoral dispute.