US Ambassador, Brent Hardt, plays a dynamic role in our society. The adage that a village raises a child translates well to our world today: the global village raises a nation. We are inter-connected, inter-dependent and inter-related on every level of our social, economic, cultural and political being.
We live in a new era in this 21st century. Old, 1960’s concepts such as guarded nationalism, myopic hungering after an undefined view of sovereignty and such petty self-pitying hankering after a vague view of internal affairs all serve narrow interests, and fail to connect Guyana to the global village, this world of nations knitted together under multinational imperatives.
So we welcome Hardt’s pro-active stance, especially on matters of strengthening the Guyanese democratic machinery.
The Ambassador speaks with admirable courage, integrity and openness on controversies dogging us. Four matters baffle our nation today: Local Government elections; the deteriorating social and environmental state of our capital Georgetown; our stunted State media; and that vexing issue of the anti-money laundering laws.
The Guyanese society today stands gutted of skills, expertise, efficient, visionary leadership and a national father figure. The brain drain devastated Guyana.
Sad it is that this perspective of why we are where we’re at today fails to generate any kind of national discussion. Our Parliament, Government and civic society ignore this devastating impact of the brain drain.
So happy we should be when folks like Hardt come among us and, instead of playing a passive role, take active leadership to contribute to our nation, to our development, to our well-being.
In fact, what caused the massive brain drain that now cripples us as a people is that devious distrust of the role of America and Britain in our affairs.
Using wicked connotations of imperialism, colonialism and internal affairs, twinned with other ugly twists to words like sovereignty, independence and nationalism, we kicked out a wide swath of our intelligent citizens, many migrating in fear and fleeing the ugly rhetoric, over the past five decades.
From the 1960’s through to today, where Guyanese line up in scores at the US Embassy for a visa to flee their homeland, we see a steady exodus, a migrating trend that shows no sign of let-up.
Now, hundreds of thousands of brilliant Guyanese, the best and brightest and most educated among us, live in Canada, the US, England, throughout the Caribbean and even in Africa and Asia.
This devastating brain drain fuels a bigger problem in the socio-economic and cultural drought that stifles our national identity. So we go with begging bowl in hand to the said US, Canada, England et al, seeking pittances of aid, fostering our economic dependency worse than our state of political subservience under colonial rule. It is no joke that most Guyanese today would welcome back the British to rule us.
This forms the historical backdrop of Brent Hardt’s role in our society today.
The case of Government revoking the visa of Mr Glenn Bradbury, a Canadian employed to carry out a democracy project funded under a US government programme, must frighten not only the diplomatic community, but also every Guyanese.
Bradbury is Canadian citizen and, employed under the US funded programme, came here to contribute to the Guyanese homeland, networking and reaching out to Ministers of the Government, members of Parliament, and civic society. He actually became friends with a lot of Guyanese, including leaders.
Canada, home to hundreds of thousands of Guyanese, welcomes us to its shores, supporting a vast number of families through remittances and also bilateral aid to Government. The US plays that same role too, making a defining difference for the Guyanese nation.
So we can’t just revoke visas of their nationals, and cuss out these friendly international partners. That is absolutely grotesque, and Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee should hang his head in shame at his aggressive rhetoric towards our Canadian and American friends.
Rohee’s rhetoric shows that our Government sees nefarious motives in the role of Canada and the US in contributing to our national well-being.
It is inconceivable that Government would revoke the visa of Mr Bradbury. It is inconceivable that Government would employ old world rhetoric to slam the role of Hardt, Bradbury and the western diplomatic community’s efforts to strengthen our democracy.
Government’s emphasis on engaging, in overly-friendly relations, with China, Russia and even Iran, demonstrates a terrible misreading of the geopolitical situation of the 21st century.
While we don’t want to be subservient, and must assert our voice as an independent nation on the world stage, we cannot compromise our values as a democracy. Our values embrace respecting human rights and the inalienable value of the individual. In our values we align more with the heartbeat of US Ambassador Hardt than with the draconian abuse of human rights in Russia, China, Cuba or Iran.
Yet not once has this Government or Parliament condemned China, Iran, Cuba or Russia for continuing abuses of human beings. In fact, Guyana abstained from a United Nations vote sanctioning Russia for its war-like role in Ukraine.
Our foreign policy therefore lacks substance, integrity and alignment to the values that define the Guyanese nation.
But when our Government applies this attitude to the internal situation, and sees the role of the US Ambassador and a Canadian citizen working among us on a democracy project as some sinister, nefarious, cynical attempt to meddle in the internal affairs of Guyana, we citizens must be very worried.
For this is nothing more than a return to the 1960’s days of scaring away our brightest and most intelligent minds.
How ironic it is that Government would revoke the work visa of a Canadian citizen, given the hundreds of thousands of Guyanese and their descendants who work and live and study in Canada, and depend on Canadian goodwill.
In fact, many Government ministers and Parliamentarians embrace their own visa to Canada with sacred guardedness.
Ambassador Hardt, exhibiting good conscience, stands in alignment, being true, to the values of a democratic nation. We the Guyanese nation welcome his active strength, and Government, instead of seeing meddlesome shadows, must rid itself of its blinkers to see Hardt’s heart of goodwill.