Photo: AP. A masked man rides into town, but what is the real reason for his visit? Pompeo seen here on a recent visit to the Dominican Republic in which the main purpose of his visit was never revealed.

The Guyana Information Service has announced that Unites States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is to visit Guyana.  Pompeo will be the highest-ranking US official ever to visit the country.

The US has made no announcement about the visit, but Permanent Secretary in the Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Audrey Jardine-Waddell told the online publication, Demerarawaves.com that the visit is scheduled for September 17 and 18.

His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali has described Pompeo’s imminent visit to Guyana as “extremely important” and timely as the country continues to work towards strengthening bilateral relations.

During a recent interview with the Guyana Information Service News Room, the Head of State said the US was a key partner in Guyana’s development, adding that there were many issues globally and regionally, which require attention.

“I think his visit is at a key time especially when as a country, we are exploring various initiatives in accessing capital, ensuring that we have capital that is not only accessible but cheap capital or low-interest capital. We also have a transformative agenda that we want all to be involved in,” President Ali said.

Some of the areas of interest expected to be discussed include climate change, private sector collaboration, local content, biodiversity, democracy and freedom, as well as security and tackling the drug trade, said the Guyana Information Service.

However the proposed visit is raising alarm bells and the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) has warned about the timing of the trip, describing the intention of the United States as “ominous” due to upcoming general elections in Venezuela in November.

“It is being reported that the US Secretary of State is scheduled to visit Guyana between September 17th and 18th 2020. While in the normal course of events such a visit would be welcomed, the timing and circumstances of this visit by Mr. Mike Pompeo are ominous,” the local human rights watchdog warned.

Former Guyana President Granger, who left office in August 2020, had said that in April, his administration had turned down a request from Washington to relay the Voice of America (VOA) radio broadcasts to Venezuela, which is preparing to hold elections.

The United States called for the removal of Venezuelan president Nicholas Maduro from office, supporting instead the Opposition leader Juan Guaido, but Maduro has the backing of China, Russia and Cuba.

Guyana, which has an ongoing border dispute with Venezuela, has so far not taken sides in domestic Venezuelan politics, but could come under pressure to do so during the Pompeo visit.