I keep observing the much ballyhooed claims of democracy, and return to democracy, in Guyana, and continue to be amazed at the disingenuousness of the rulers, their imported mercenaries, and their bottom-feeding sycophants. All of these panjandrums deliriously point to free elections and a supposedly free press as irrefutable proofs of their claims. It is clear that there are two (maybe several) different schools of thought prevailing as to what constitutes democracy – or democratic ideals – in Guyana. The power clique sees it as the end of the beginning whereas many others view its existence as sometimes questionable, and merely the beginning of the beginning.
First, democracy is about equality, fairness, and principled practices. Institutional translation: transparency, government accountability, social justice, and judicial integrity, among other things. To cite an example, I urge citizens to recall the public exchange between two senior administrators from within the judicial morass, and the now suspended hush of damage control, as the public ponders.
When the realms of the judiciary are so roiled, can anyone in a reasonable state of mind speak of democracy? Take another example in the operations of the Office of the DPP. Too often, on charged and sensitive matters, there is silence, or an absence of advocacy, or some inanity about files not seen. A couple of failures may be indicative of human error; a couple more about sheer incompetence. Together, these may be permissible, even forgivable. But too much dissembling (or untimely withdrawal) by the people’s counsels, and the standards of equality, fairness, and principled practices gurgle fitfully from oxygen starvation first, and a slow death through suffocation eventually.
Second, I seek to peer into democracy that is camouflaged in the numbers – statistical democracy, if you will.
There are those who are quick to drum up charts and numbers to reflect how fair and principled the rulers have been. I respectfully ask them to supply several simple pieces of information. They are: In the 28 years of darkness, how many suspicious killings and executions were there? Use any definition of suspicious. Then, provide, please, the number of the same that has occurred in the last 17 years. Only this time, feel free to use as narrow a definition of suspicious, as may be convenient. Next, provide a number representing the total dollar value of government contracts awarded, say, in the last 8 years. Follow this, by stating the dollar value of said contracts awarded to non-Indians. Along the same lines, share with the public the number of senior officers functioning in an acting capacity in the public service for a year or more. Thereafter, identify the number that is Black.
If the numbers are immaterial, then there will be no need to ask: Where are the principled practices and fairness and equality? Where are these things when teachers and public servants are subjected to near utter contempt in their separate quests for relief from an economically debilitating environment? And especially so when the overseers seize every opportunity to help themselves to a sweeter-and-heavier slice of the taxpayers’ pie. Further, where is the fairness and all this babble of a free press when critical reporting is damned, the Guyana ‘Monocle’ sees and presents what the masters want it to see (and what no one else sees), and yet another attempt is in motion to intimidate another section of the paper press, an albeit glaringly colourful section to be sure. Petty, narrow minded, mean spirited, yes; fair and equal and principled – well, not so fast…
Where is democracy when to question routinely (or write) comes with charges of suspect loyalty, reverse racism, self-hate, or treasonous conduct? It is particularly farcical that these charges emanate from those who now populate apartheid enclaves on the East Coast in ostentatious opulence. In the meantime, tighten your belt, tense your muscles, and let’s work together for the continued prosperity of your lords and betters.
If there is democracy at the bar, in the face of the law, with freedom from intimidation, through opportunity in the workplace and a level playing field, and from a responsible and responsive government, then there are very limited grounds on which to question or to challenge.
On the other hand, if these conditions are but imaginary or propaganda points, then let us recognize the other face of democracy that exists in Guyana. It is one that is deceitful, smirking, and obscene.