The diaspora programme will fail if the government does not accept the Leadership and Democracy project

Dear Editor,

 

When the US Embassy donated health supplies and sporting equipment to Guyanese, the Government of Guyana (GOG) gladly accepted them. When the US Embassy Medical Outreach provided care to Guyanese in the form of dentistry, HIV testing, counselling and general medicine, the GOG gladly accepted it. In addition, when the US Embassy Medical Outreach donated unused over-the-counter medication and antibiotics to Guyanese, the GOG gladly accepted them. When the US Embassy donated shoes, clothing, and cleaning supplies to Guyanese, the GOG gladly accepted them.

Moreover, when the US Embassy provided training to the Guyana Defence Force through the US military, the GOG gladly accepted it.

When the US Embassy donated school supplies, books and computer equipment to Guyanese, the GOG gladly accepted them. When US President Jimmy Carter donated his time to come to Guyana in relation to democratic issues, the GOG gladly accepted it. Everything the US Embassy donated to Guyanese, the GOG gladly accepted with open arms.

However, when the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) tried to help the country become more democratic by providing $300 million to boost citizens’ engagement with local parliamentarians and improve overall governance, the GOG rejected the Leadership and Democracy project.

Why would the GOG say no to this project, which would improve democracy and governance? I’ll tell you why, it’s because they don’t want a fully democratic country. And without full democracy, the country will always be a developing country.

There are only a few countries which are not democratic and are still developed. Thus, in my opinion, Guyana will never become a developed country until it becomes fully democratic. Any country that rejects this, rejects development.

Furthermore, democracy and development are two sides of the same coin. By rejecting the Leadership and Democracy (LEAD) project, the GOG showed it wants only foreign money but not foreign help or full democracy. On the one hand, the GOG rejects full democracy. On the other hand, the GOG has a project (Guyana Diaspora Programme) to bring the diaspora home to rebuild the country. Is the GOG not aware that one of the reasons some of the diaspora left the country, and are still leaving is because they want to live in a democratic country?

So let me see if I understand the GOG: they don’t want to make the country more democratic; however, they do want the diaspora who left the country because of a lack of democracy to return to a non-democratic society. Thus, the GOG is doing the same thing and expecting a different result, which lacks logic.

I cannot speak for others in the diaspora. Personally, I know that I cannot work for or with a non-democratic government in a non-democratic society, because non-democratic societies have autocratic styles of leadership. In addition, I’m not used to authoritarian leadership. I don’t believe anyone who lived outside Guyana for a long time would want to return to Guyana to work for an authoritarian government, manager or supervisor because they’re not used to it.

However, I think it is a good idea to bring back the diaspora, but they should be brought back through the private sector and not through the GOG.

Sadly though, by rejecting the help of USAID and the LEAD project, the message the GOG is sending to the diaspora and foreign countries is that they don’t want outside help, which includes help from the diaspora because many in the diaspora see themselves as outsiders.

Therefore, if the GOG is serious about a democratic Guyana, I urge them to accept the LEAD project so that the country can move towards a more democratic and ultimately developed country. If the GOG rejects the LEAD project, they’ll alienate many in the diaspora, which will lead to the failure of the Guyana Diaspora Programme and ultimately to the failure of the country.

 

Yours faithfully,
Anthony Pantlitz



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