Americas, New in Lobbying

Guyana hires team that lobbied for winning presidential candidate

Guyana’s new government has hired a trio of lobbyists whose firms represented the winning side in last year’s bitterly contested presidential election in the newly oil-rich South American country.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation signed a six-month, $25,000-per-month contract with The Cormac Group on Dec. 28, according to a newly disclosed filing with the US Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The contract is for “government relations and lobbying services” and is “anticipated to include outreach to US congressional members and staff, executive branch officials, and relevant private sector organizations.”

Registered on the account are Cormac Group partner James Link and consultants Otto Reich and Jose Cardenas. Link is a former aide to then-Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) and then-Reps. Dick Cheney (R-Wyo.) and William Dickinson (R-Ala.). Reich notably served as assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs under President George W. Bush and is the founder of Florida-based Otto Reich Associates; Cardenas served as acting assistant administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean at the US Agency for International Development, also under Bush.

The new contract with Guyana describes Otto Reich Associates as a joint venture firm with The Cormac Group.

The two firms teamed up last year to lobby for the International Center for Democracy, a New York outfit close to the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) in the presidential race pitting PPP candidate Irfaan Ali against incumbent President David Granger. Mercury Public Affairs also lobbied for the PPP until last July, while JJ&B continues to represent the ruling APNU + AFC Coalition that supported Granger.

Ali was sworn in in August after a bitter electoral recount that included dueling lobbying operations in Washington.

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The new contract comes at a critical moment for Guyana. Long one of the poorest nations in South America, the tiny former British sugar colony is now having to decide what to do with the proceeds from massive oil discoveries in recent years that have the potential to turn the country’s fortunes around — or tear it apart.

“We’ve got a lot of soul searching as a country to do,” Nicholas Deygoo, the head of Georgetown’s chamber of commerce, told the New York Times last year during the electoral dispute. “We’ve read about so many oil countries where it’s gone wrong. Everyone is being very cynical.”