The rights of citizens to live and work in the region is under threat, and this is evident in the Guyana Government and Caricom denying Carl Greenidge the right to express his opinion at a private function as to how the country of his birth is being managed, yet at the same time Caricom did not raise a voice when more than two hundred young men were executed by phantom squads.
The termination of Mr Greenidge’s relationship with Caricom, regardless of how it is being justified, brings into serious question the role of Caricom as an institution that adumbrates and advocates principles guided by international conventions.
The issue before us borders on one’s rights as a citizen and Mr Greenidge’s statements when taken into the court of public opinion stand out. Isn’t it a fact that there are serious concerns about how Guyana is being managed? And for the Guyana Government to raise objections to what Greenidge has said and which resulted in his termination is indicative of their constant efforts to try to silence him, and more so deny him the right to work. We must be reminded that Bharrat Jagdeo while having different political views and supported by a different political party was given a job at State Planning when Mr Greenidge was the responsible Minister of Finance. While these facts were known Mr Jagdeo’s right to work was honoured.
When the PPP came to office in 1992 and Mr Greenidge was on his way to take up an appointment as Deputy Secretary General of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group, all efforts were made by the PPP to deny him the right to work, and this right was only honoured because of the strident and principled position taken up by one of the Caricom governments. The government also sought to deny Rashleigh Jackson and Clarence Ellis the right to work as international public servants.
The issue before us speaks of the double standard and discrimination that exists within Guyana and now appears to be given tacit support by Caricom. The leaders of Caricom sought to denounce the Lusignan massacre but when given an opportunity to investigate and pronounce on the many extra-judicial killings in circumstances where this government has allowed the holding of many inquests to fall into abeyance despite the fact that they are a requirement under the law, the nation is yet to hear Caricom joining with the ABC countries to ask for a commission of inquiry.
The dreams of the Caricom founding fathers are now under serious threat. It was never their intention to deny citizens their rights and freedoms. Caricom was established in deference to respecting these rights and freedoms under a body that allowed for the harnessing of the region’s skills, respecting our diversity and the trading of goods and services for the collective good. Caricom is today on trial for failing to uphold what it was established to protect, advance and defend. It is hoped they go back to the drawing board and treat with this issue based on principles in respect for Mr Greenidge’s rights, and not be the stooge of another to execute a political vendetta at the expense of regional development and the rights of the region’s peoples.
This issue requires the voices and muscles of every institution and individual to see justice is served. This is not about Carl Greenidge; this is an onslaught against our rights and institutions, of which Mr Greenidge happens to be the symbol today; if this goes unchallenged tomorrow it may be someone else who dares to exercise their right and freedom. Guyanese institutions like the PNC and the group that nominated him to be the PNC’s presidential candidate must robustly come out against what the Jagdeo administration has done to this gentleman.