Linden residents have been urged to stand up to the government and demand that their rights are respected and that the commitments made to them and the region in the August 21, 2012 agreement with the Donald Ramotar administration are honoured.
This charge was delivered by speakers at a community meeting held last Saturday. The meeting was organised after the regional administration of Region 10 asked that a planned meeting between itself and government, scheduled for January 4, be postponed until the region heard from its residents. Government had called the region’s decision to postpone the meeting “ominous” and “sinister.”
Addressing some 2,000 residents at the meeting, Pastor Renis Morian, a Member of Parliament for main opposition APNU, said that all that Linden is asking for is economic development. ”We are asking to be on the land selection committee… we are asking for our own television station. At this juncture, there can be no retreat. We have to be prepared.
We can’t roll over and play dead,” he said, while noting that the church has also awakened to the fact that it has to join the fight.
Morian also called for the people of Linden to expose the “apologists and propagandists” in their midst. “Even the business community is following the bandwagon but we have a just cause,” said Morian, referring to the posturing of the Private Sector Commission with regard to the Linden protests.
“Look around Region 10… the average male is unemployed,” Morian said.
Trade union representative Leslie Gonsalves said that when necessary, the people of Linden are prepared to let the government feel the force of the community.
Gonsalves reminded that 62 workers of RUSAL were still on the breadline after they were dismissed from their jobs at the Bauxite company. He called for the reinstatement of these workers with their full benefits.
Gonsalves also reminded the residents of the community that it was President Ramotar himself, when he was PPP/C’s Presidential Candidate, who promised that there would be 2,000 jobs coming to Linden. Ramotar was at the time speaking at a PPP/C Wismar political rally in November 2011, just days before the 2011 general elections.
Union stalwart Lincoln Lewis, also addressing the meeting, said that the struggle of the people of Linden and region is about the economic wellbeing of the people. “Government must respect your fundamental right from beginning to end,” he told residents.
Lewis said that the Linden Commission of Inquiry has brought to the fore that there are rogue policemen in the Guyana Police Force and that Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee gave instructions to senior operatives of the force.
Meanwhile, chartered accountant and attorney Christopher Ram said that time has come for the people of Linden to do something about the breaches of the region’s agreement with the government.
He told the gathering that he did not believe that subsidies alone are the solution to the problems of Region 10 and that more must be offered in terms of opportunities. He said that at one time the region had the highest per capita income in the country and noted that it is endowed with natural resources.
Further, Ram said that it is the right of every citizen of Linden to demand of the government not only access to their own television station, but also access to the National Communications Network, which is funded with taxpayers’ money.
There has been uneven progress on the agreement, which provided for a Technical Committee to reviewing electricity rates in Linden; and an Economic Committee tasked with examining all studies, all plans, all sectors and their resources in use, new resources and human resources and developing a sustainable development plan for Linden and Region 10.
The agreement also catered for the government and Region 10 to agree to the establishment of a Region 10 Regional Land Selection Committee, as well as to return the dish and transmitter for the TV station to the Linden community, with the government to facilitate a broadcast licence for the region.
There was a two week-deadline for both areas, but this was not met.