Recently, I have had the bittersweet experience of encountering a few episodes of To Catch a Smuggler which is currently being aired on the National Geographic channel.
The show highlights the efforts of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers at the John F. Kennedy Airport to intercept and arrest drug smugglers from different parts of the world. Not surprisingly, smugglers from Guyana were arrested, one with cocaine concealed at the bottom of his suitcase, and another, a female, with cocaine wrapped in condoms and concealed in her vagina.
Of particular interest to me was when one of the supervisory officers mentioned that Guyana is not known as a vacation destination, implying that Americans visiting there without family ties, arouse suspicion. The same officer also mentioned that flights arriving from Guyana are usually under scrutiny because there has been increased smuggling from that destination.
Unlike those who are enamoured of the phallic buildings appearing around Georgetown, and boasting about economic development and progress in Guyana, I see societal decay. When the perception of Guyana as a drug- smuggling haven is confirmed on national television in North America and elsewhere, then I think the architects of “economic progress” and “prosperity” in this country should be conscience- stricken and embarrassed.
What good are all the towering structures and malls and hotels when people become hemmed into illegalities for survival? Are we proud of wearing one notoriety after the other in different historical periods? Can we claim development and progress when exploitative economics privilege a few while leaving so many in poverty?
From drug smuggling to contract killings to robberies to domestic homicides and suicides. Common Guyanese are drowning in social and political sewage, even if they don’t know it. Add to this toxic brew the shameless income disparities between the self- interested elites (some with political privilege) and the ordinary public servant; and the continued plunder of our country’s resources for the wealth- accumulation of the affluent, and we have a country staring at a nihilistic future.
While the social and cultural foundations of this country rot and fester, the “architects” are busy ogling the next economic opportunity for private gain and power. There is no ethical conscience that sees the current destruction. Progress is measured in property accumulation and bloated bank accounts alone. Never mind young people are stabbing one another in schools or deranged men and women are butchering one another, Guyana is supposedly progressing.
In the words of Ximena de la Barra, we seem to have left the fox to guard the henhouse in many sectors of this country. Tomorrow another drug smuggler will cite his point of departure as Guyana. Another murder will find its place in the headlines. And sure enough, another “architect” will boast of some grandiose infrastructural project. Sigh.
(Name and address supplied)