South of the border – and military AID

Seven Self-Employed Bandits,

Crime as “Employment”

Not with an actual “heavy heart” but with some deliberation, I restrained myself from personal commentary on yesterday’s Labour Day or on Monday’s Arrival Day.

I’ll wager that the usual (post-Budget) “division of labour” was manifest yesterday. (This was written long before yesterday.) FITUG and the TUC would have abandoned “Solidarity Forever”, that moving, inspirational international workers’ song and advisory. Does competition and division engender betterment for the working-class sometimes?




And I hope that the various organisers of the Arrival Day events over this weekend will eschew triumphalism when exuding pride at sacrifice and achievement. Don’t boast about owning most of the country’s resources and executive power and positions. Be proud and reflective! (You might even want to scold some of the descendants from the first-arrived Hesperus and Whitby over their indiscretions and outright misdemeanours against our Republic.) Happy Arrival Day as we, the descendants and heirs of the first 1838 coolies think of ways of uplifting the needy amongst us and other Guyanese whose forebears caused us, the Indos, to be here in the first place.

So I expect numerous passionate pieces on Labour Day and Arrival Day by others, so please “check out” my following alternative – repeat-reflections on our giant neighbour Brazil.


South of our border, our military needs


A few days ago I was in friendly but stimulating discussion with a qualified Guyanese gentlemen who attended a USA-based Inter-American Defence College and participated in the Amistad Programmes at the National Defence University. Dr P.H.M Thomas mentioned that many Brazilian military top brass were his class-mates and colleagues. (One classmate is actually now the re-elected President of a South American State quite known to us and CARICOM.)

Dr Thomas reports that his Brazilian friends always wondered just why post-Independent Guyana never looked to Brazil for more economic co-operation including military assistance. Now, that has to do, Frankly Speaking, with the geo-political fact that both colonial and Independent Guyana never considered a continental relationship or destiny, in terms of our socio-economic, political international relations. Historically, culturally we were bound up with a concept known as the Caribbean Community (Caricom). But I’ll return to those thoughts a few sentences later.

Before and after visiting the nearby neighbouring State of Roraima in the Federative Republic, I always marvelled at some basic fact about Brazil: that it is the world’s fifth largest landmass of a country; that it has borders with ten other South American States; that it manufactures everything under the economic sun – from washing-machine and cars to guns and aeroplanes; that outside of Africa, Italy and Japan, the greatest concentration of African, Italian and Japanese people can be found right in our giant neighbour, to the South of us. And so on.

Brazil was discovered by the Portuguese explorer Cabral in 1500 but was formally occupied in 1530. By then the Portuguese colonists had discovered a “wonderful wood” to export – the Pau-Brasil species which gave the country its name.

By 1904 any potential border problem between Brazil and British Guiana was peacefully resolved. The Brazilians, apparently, need no sabre-rattling claims. They are very much amongst us, in welcome commerce and culture, these days. So why has our fledgling military establishment never turned to Brazil for military assistance it certainly is in a position to offer? I mean in a big, sustained, significant way.

I know we now have ambassadorial exchanges of Military Attaches. Our Colonel Bruce Lovell should now be in Brasilia. If allowed to function professionally he might make a positive difference. But we are traditionally wedded to the military of Britain and the USA. France and Canada, Germany and Japan might be good assistance allies even as the Chinese keep offering help to the GDF.

I might be out of my depth here but besides Brazilian bureaucracy tending to be slow, we do have active bilateral trade arrangements, inclusive of some Partial Scope Agreement, concerning selected products and tariff preferences. But is it true that Guyana actually refused Brazilian military overtures and assistance over recent years? If so, why?

I’m advised that agreements or military assistance usually have to conform to other obligations and conditions extant. Therefore, our Foreign Ministry, most likely, would have to clear, after analysis, our commitments to the OAS or CARICOM pacts, for example.

Then again, I understand that since Guyana is not now involved in any official war or conflict, weapons or military equipment would have to be related to defence of our borders, territorial integrity and our thrust against drug trafficking.

Okay, so be it. I recommend that, in this regard, we turn Southwards. Whilst not relinquishing traditional ties. Every week or two before all Election Days here, I would wonder why we would never approach the Venezuelans and Brazilians for say, four helicopters, with pilots, for three days, to cover hinterland polling divisions. But then I’m only a poorly-informed layman.


Self-Employed Banditry


At the risk of being deemed too facetious I offer the following half-real scenarios of seven under-35 young Guyanese males opting for criminal enterprise as their chosen career-choices and employment.

Often, too often “poverty” and unemployment are advanced as causes of crime and reasons for the youth turning to crime. But many of our young use the new morality and models of criminal success to rule out the slow-dollar employment for the get-rich-quick life of the unlawful.

High school dropouts Johnny and Jamesie decided that Georgetown’s Chinese restaurants were easy targets. Until Jamesie lost his right hand from a Chinese chopper. Ram and Rakesh, aided by William, employed themselves stealing from the village’s school children who easily identified them before they tried their skills at stealing motor-cycles. Guess how they ended up.

In a hinterland community Ross and Tremblake decided to grow marijuana. After being caught, jailed and released, they turned, naturally, to work in a mining camp. Old habits died hard. Theft led to the death of Tremblake.

The fate of seven young men who decided to “employ” themselves through criminal enterprise, opens the question: how do we persuade the youth so inclined to see regular, acceptable education and lifelong careers? Discuss…

Labour, Arrival: Ponder!

*1) Why do folks consider certain high-ranking political types genuine public servants? Mr Dharamlall as Permanent Secretary???

*2)   How is “Civil Society” constituted? Why can’t it be organized to be a respected component of the State? Dial GNCPP 629-9899 to find out.

*3)   The American Rights Activist asks: How can a Pope who actively covered up physical sexual wrong-doing by his priests, for years, be converted into Saint? She claims no God would condone such. But then again madam, He is supposed to be very “forgiving”.

*3b) From a Sunday Stabroek Editorial: “As for the independent action committee, the government is allergic to the word “independent”.

*4)   Can Culture be at any crossroads? Or is it cultural development? Coming soon: Deep inside the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport!

Til next week!

(Comments? Allanafenty

Around the Web