Our international profile

Official world reports continue to paint an awful picture of our homeland.

We make it on the global brain-drain list for our alarming level of skills depletion stemming from our extreme migration pattern; we appear on the global index of State corruption year after year; the US State Department lists us as violators of human rights, citing us for extra-judicial killings and other problems in the law-enforcement sector.

Now a new UN report, titled the United Nations’ Caribbean Human Development Report 2012 lists us among the worst narcotic-impacted country in the Caribbean. The narcotic trade impacts the national economy, and fuels murders and vicious crime, this report claims.

Government usually responds to such reports with passive dismissal, or bureaucratic and opaque denial.

This newspaper carried a full story on this latest UN Caribbean report in its edition yesterday.

“While the report’s findings about the impact of drugs on the economy and murders is not novel, it adds to a growing body of work that a serious problem does exist here and needs to be tackled”, the Stabroek News story said.

This UN Caribbean report reflects what most Guyanese citizens suspect: narcotics trading here is a massive problem. We see the narcotic effects on our country, in our communities. We know its impact. We know the drug-related executions that go on with scant police investigation or solving of such crimes.

This UN report states what the average Guyanese citizen already knows.

Why would we allow our country to descend to such lows?

We are blessed with such an amazing landscape – fertile land, abundant rivers and waterways, natural resources of incredible richness, a people hard-working, resourceful and innovative in thinking.

Our natural gifts could easily see us become an emerging global economy, like our neighbour Brazil. We could be the South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia of the Caribbean and South America.

We speak English fluently, as it’s our mother tongue. Our culture is western and in sync with contemporary global social behaviour. We are familiar with technology, the internet and the new ways of the world.

We live in a democratic society, with several free private media operations. Our education system goes from nursery to university, and even where it’s fractured and broken in the public system, we see the private schools producing international scholars.

Why, then, would we be so consistently appearing in international reports on the bad side? Why do we remain a nation in gross poverty? How could we allow the narcotic trade to so affect our country? Why?

The average Guyanese who migrates almost instantly transforms his or her lifestyle and life achievements, becoming ambitious, polished and focused on career goals.

Here in Guyana most of our citizens seem to fail to focus on career, or to harbour serious ambitions.

In fact, talk to city dwellers and villagers and most – though not all – would express their dream and desire for migrating.

That’s where our citizens see hope and opportunity and potential for a future – overseas.

We suffer from a governance crisis. It is the only answer one comes up with when considering the context of our Guyana today.

Why, given all our amazing positives, are we in this situation?

Because of a crisis of governance, where our elected government leaders and Parliamentarians fail to inspire and equip the citizen for a life of worthwhile achievement, for dreaming the Guyana Dream, for living focused on building our nation.

The citizen suffers under the draconian hand of poor, backward governance.

This stunted governance shows up in alarming impact: our low per capita GDP, the worst in the Caribbean and South America except for Haiti and Nicaragua; our falling national literacy rate, now close to 20 percent, the worst ever in our history; the brutality and blatant executions that go on in broad daylight in public spaces with poor law-enforcement response; the falling moral and ethical standards across the society; the miserable nastiness of Georgetown; the loud cussing and harsh talk in our public spaces; escalating corruption in Government and the private sector, with the Auditor General’s annual report ignored; the alarming skills depletion that sees us hold the world record for brain drain, at 89 percent. Our society suffers. Why? Poor governance could be the main reason.

So what do we do about poor governance?

We face the cataclysmic catastrophe of not having leadership skills in the country, because of that brain drain. We just plainly lack the leadership and management skills to have a workable, decent, efficient government.

What would make a huge difference in this society’s governance culture? One solution could be for concerned citizens in the Diaspora to take up leadership and direction of local communities.

One result of the poor governance at State and Parliamentary levels is that we have not had local government elections in nearly two decades.

Overseas-based skilled Guyanese could make a great contribution of their skills, knowledge and resources to give direction and guidance to their home villages, city wards and local communities.

This partnership between overseas Guyanese and local communities could see a great transformation happen, ground up. Of course, we would need to cajole State government and Parliament to grant such partnerships new rights and privileges.

But such a developmental strategy, incorporating responsible media houses and overseas groups and local civic organizations, can make development happen.

One brainstorms for solutions, because it’s so frustrating to look at our country and feel the pain of our fall. How do we advance? How do we develop?

It becomes clear that this country does not have the technical, managerial and visionary skills capacity to advance on the 21st century world stage. We lack skills for good governance.

It becomes clear that a partnership between global Guyanese, established in the diaspora, and local communities is imperative and necessary.

The same concept of overseas Guyanese partnering with their old schools here could be applied between local communities and the diaspora.

This way, world reports may start to list us in positive, constructive ways, giving us an international profile that causes us to lift our heads high on the global 21st century stage.

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