Cheddi’s honest, patriotic capitalists

— and why the world becomes “American”

My brevity today indicates that this offering is one of my “time-out productions.”

However, as I read, weekly, of the huge cocaine busts which now irrevocably taints my Guyana as some “Cocaine transshipment/trafficking point,” thoughts of the stories of some of our legendary business families cross my mind. And reflections of Cheddi Jagan’s 1993 call to our “capitalists” also surface. Along with considerations of that state of mind called “patriotism”.

I suppose I’m rambling on here because I suffer to force myself to believe that there could still be such a group as honest businessmen.

I have been privileged to research and write about the founding, history, and development of such Guyanese businesses. It is still fascinating to read of the steadfast, persistent, pioneering spirit which slowly, but surely, catapulted humble beginnings into huge commercial and industrial successes. And these had their origins spawned during the “wretched colonial days”.

It is not that I feel that all those Guyanese (capitalist) businessmen were all angels at all times of their “dealings.” For even whilst growing up in old-time, more moralistic Guyana I wondered whether successful businessmen could afford to be always honest, legal and exemplary. The unmistakable conventional wisdom is that today’s business persons— from the market stall holder to the owner of the mall or supermarket, to the big tycoon or magnate- is no longer your role model of honest uprightness. Further, I need not say.

For country
—and cocaine

Which brings me to Dr. Cheddi Jagan, Guyana’s life-long anti-colonial fighter and avowed Marxist-Leninist who returned to governmental power in late 1992.

Known to be wedded to the Socialist principles of society’s organization and economics, he was never-the-less practical enough in 1993 to issue a call to those he described as “patriotic capitalists”. Even Burnham’s attempts at Socialism could not prevent the free-market Capitalist environment that was commercial Guyana in the nineties. (The Soviet Bloc had collapsed leaving only North Korea and Cuba as struggling beneficiaries. China had already begun its ascent into “social” capitalism. Hence Dr. Jagan’s appeal to our local magnates to put country somewhere near their front-burner.

To me, frankly speaking, business people put themselves, their families and companies first, then country. No matter how much they utilize the country’s resources, expertise (and loopholes in laws), country comes in last, benefitting only when the profits are significant. (It must be noted, however, that some administrations do squeeze some companies with taxes which bring even the bold to their knees.)

I conclude my waffle with this my inescapable consideration: whenever couriers at the Timehri Airport- and other subordinates- are caught with illegal drugs do we not realise that they can’t have the capital and other wherewithal to fund such international operations? Who then are the Barons behind the local Cocaine Trafficking Business? Note that last word “business”. Is it today’s Big Businessmen? Or Officialdom? Discuss.

The world as “Americans”

To celebrate this Monday’s July Fourth American Independence Anniversary, the daughter of former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi produced a full-length documentary titled “Citizen U.S.A.- A 50-state round trip.” It simply, but with dramatic persuasiveness- presents the thoughts of very new American citizens, just sworn in at ceremonies across the fifty American states. Even the Dutch husband of Alexandra Pelosi, the Road Trip producer, was featured.

I’ll never be a citizen of anywhere else besides my own Big Beautiful Blighted Land but I confess to being moved by those grown-up foreigners who made it to become U.S. naturalized, “paper”, documented citizens. Their comments were simply emotional. A sampling:

The couple from India arrived with $100.00 in their pockets. Now they both have Ph. D’s. A Nigerian professional said he had acquired two degrees and a home whilst his aged father back home died with nothing after a life-time of work. A Pakistani lady spoke of morals and values missing in today’s Pakistani society. New Chinese Americans spoke of the dreaded one-child policy in China. A South African mother spoke of safety and security for her baby. The Iraqi was dumbfounded at Americans’ love for animals, how they are treated better than Iraq treats its citizens.

The new Thai American spoke of owning her own school and the man from Portugal spoke emotionally of hunting for water in his part of Portugal, but now he’s in charge of a water system in Massachusetts. Celebrities like Henry Kissinger and Gene Simmons all gave old testimonies.

Cynics and America-bashers might deem it all American patriotic propaganda. But America is a nation of immigrants, it must always be remembered. If not a suspicion, it is a demographic fact that more Guyanese live in the U.S.A. than in Guyana. Like some other immigrants, some of them take what America offers them for granted. Others abuse the facilities. To me that’s sad; that’s ingratitude. Whether they pay their taxes or not America pays you for your hard work when you can find it. That ought to be respected.


1) Beyond “reasonable doubt”! An American jury seemed to have had doubt. So their not guilty verdict in the case which accused a mother of murdering her two year old has caused national outrage. The system worked? Was justice served?

2) In New York and New Jersey the other day I met Indo-Guyanese who happily migrated during the last decade. They, like me, won’t be voting this year.

3) The Afro-Guyanese there seemed to favour the PNC’s brigadier very much. (I realise that, at least, he’ll know how to procure proper helicopters for the national crime fight.)

4) Farewell to Linden’s Tina (Burns). She was a lovable British Lady who journeyed to Linden, across the Atlantic, in her own sailboat!

5) Coming next week: What our traffic cops say…

‘Til next week!


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