Tired of lectures

Telling police officers attending their annual conference at Eve Leary last week that he was “tired of lectures” President Bharrat Jagdeo, and his Minister of Home Affairs Mr Clement Rohee, then proceeded to deliver long lectures of their own. But, to what end?

Even as the police officers were conferring in Eve Leary, everyday gun crimes were occurring with uninterrupted frequency elsewhere. But, in a bizarre disconnect between the factual and the factitious, none of the long lectures seemed to be concerned with the actuality of present day public safety.

On Wednesday, the same day that the conference opened, a taxi-driver from de Kinderen, was robbed by men one of whom was armed with a handgun, and a goldsmith from Port Mourant was attacked and robbed by armed men. The next day, Thursday, a taxi-driver from Vigilance was shot dead and dumped in La Penitence, and five men attacked the security guard and robbed an Internet café at Vreed-en-Hoop. On Friday, a British tourist who came to watch cricket was badly beaten and robbed after taking a taxi from the National Stadium at Providence. On Saturday, a woman from Good Hope was attacked and robbed.

That these quotidian gun crimes were making headlines in the real world while the president and minister were showering congratulations on the police force for their splendid performance was bewildering. What was even more weird was the minister’s rambling dissertation on a fantastic array of exotic topics. The officers were treated to his opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the roles played by Iran, Syria and the USA; terrorist attacks on the Sri Lankan cricketers in Pakistan and on the city of Mumbai, India; depredations of the drug cartels in Mexico; and political alignments of Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Cuba and Nicaragua compared to those of Colombia, Chile, Uruguay and Mexico and Brazil.

Yet, the minister never once mentioned the rampant gun crimes which afflict ordinary humans in this country every day, neither did he recommend some remedy to deal with the scourge. Although the unmonitored 1,100 km border with Brazil is a known entry point for guns and drugs, he blithely announced that the administration will be constructing two new airstrips on Wakenaam and Leguan Islands in the Essequibo River instead. These, he said, were to allow law enforcement agencies to have easier and faster access to those areas, noting that “we cannot discount the possibility of criminals and drug dealers using those facilities also, especially the new airstrips, to carry out their illegal activities.”  He did not explain how such misuse could be prevented.

President Bharrat Jagdeo used the forum to lecture police officers on his counter narcotics tactics. Stating that he was “tired of the lectures” from developed countries, he completely ignored the reality of his administration’s utter failure to implement its own National Drug Strategy Master Plan since he launched it in 2005. Instead, he gratuitously criticised the United States as “the biggest failure of law enforcement and…the largest source of money laundering,” and insisted that if the developed world wanted to fight narco-trafficking, Georgetown will collaborate as a partner not as a recipient of lectures.

As guides for planning law enforcement policy and coordinating police response for the rest of the year, the feature addresses to this annual officers’ conference must have seemed strangely incongruous and irrelevant.  The officers yearn for the acquisition of concrete maritime and aviation resources from the government to enable them to protect the country’s coasts and borders in order to curb gun and drug crimes. They, too, must be tired of lectures.

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