EXPLORING GUYANA WITH KNOWLEDGE, HONESTY AND SYMPATHY


“I lived here when I was a little girl,” Gaiutra Bahadur pleaded nostalgically to the security guard, unsuccessfully seeking entry to the derelict Wales Estate compound. Ms. Bahadur was in Guyana to prepare for an article, “Is Guyana’s Oil a Blessing or a Curse,” which was published on March 30 in the New York Times. Migrating with her parents to the US as a 6-year-old, Ms. Bahadur has returned often and written extensively about Guyana. Her ‘Coolie Woman,’ published in 2013, a ‘master chronicle’ focusing on the journey of her great grandmother, Sujaria, who left Calcutta in 1903, is a widely praised, landmark study, of indentureship and indentured women. In her NYT article Ms. Bahadur grapples with the issues arising from Guyana’s discovery of oil in 2015 with balance, integrity and sympathy. 

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VENEZUELA FINALLY UNMASKED FOR THE WORLD TO SEE


Guyanese need no evidence of the perfidy of Venezuela. Before the ink was dry on the Geneva Agreement signed in February 1966 and on the Order in Council granting Independence to Guyana from British colonialism in May 1966, Venezuela invaded Guyana’s half of Ankoko in October 1966 and have since been in illegal occupation of the island. In violation of the Geneva Agreement, Venezuela has shamelessly argued that adherence by Guyana to the Geneva Agreement, is the only way to resolve the border controversy. Guyana’s adherence, it has argued, require it to negotiate directly with Venezuela for a “practical settlement” of the controversy. Whatever the “practical settlement” means it relates only to the task of the Mixed Commission. The Agreement provides that, if within four years, the Mixed Commission does not arrive at a “full agreement for the solution to the controversy” one of the means under Article of the UN Charter shall apply. Article 33 provides for a judicial solution. Guyana engaged in talks with Venezuela for most of the period between 1966 and 2018 when the UN Secretary General referred the controversy to the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) because of lack of progress.

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GOVERNMENT SHOULD ACT ON THE UN REPORT


In 2012, in an article in the PPP’s Mirror newspaper, I argued that while the Government had done much to curb corruption, the time had come to consider additional preventative measures. The exponential growth of public expenditure, I suggested, provided fertile soil for the growth of corruption which had by that time become “pervasive.” I commended the Government for the measures it had implemented during the previous twenty years but suggested that they had become inadequate. I had met President Ramotar after the article was sent to the Mirror and before it was published and mentioned it to him. He said that it was “ok.” A few weeks later at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the PPP, chaired by President Ramotar, I was drawn over the coals and, as if that was not enough, I was attacked, abused and humiliated in a manner that I had never experienced or encountered. I was forced to resign from the PPP which was the most painful decision I had ever taken up to that point. The Government’s refrain on the issue of corruption has been to “prove it,” or to suggest that it is not as bad as claimed.

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HAITI, ITS POLITICS AND ITS GANGS


Haiti became independent in 1804 when Dessalines assumed the role of Governor General, later assuming the title of Emperor. After his assassination two years later, a civil war broke out that lasted until 1820. In 1825 France threatened a return to slavery unless Haiti paid reparations in a sum valued today at US$21 billion. Haiti borrowed from American banks at high interest rates and had been paying off this sum to France until 1947.

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THIRD PARTY POLITICS


A review of third parties, their roles and future, were discussed in SN’s editorial yesterday against the background of VP Jagdeo’s announcement that the PPP was ready for the challenge. A New and United Guyana (ANUG) was established in January, 2019. At the time of its establishment, it was fully aware of the history of third parties in Guyana, particularly The United Force (TUF) and the Alliance for Change (AFC), both of which had joined with the PNC/APNU to form a government, the TUF in 1964 and the AFC in 2015. It appears that Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan, leader of the AFC, was aware of the danger to the AFC’s existence of coalescing with the APNU because, prior to 2015, he expressed fears that, if it did, it would become “dead meat,” presumably acknowledging the history of the TUF. The AFC, up to the last elections, did not quite become “dead meat” but its death rattle was being heard. It is not known whether the terminal fortunes of the TUF and the AFC will influence the future of third party politics.

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