Millions on dental work but Amerindian hostel in Lethem neglected

Dear Editor,

The ceiling of the caretaker’s room at the Amerindian Hostel in Lethem
The ceiling of the caretaker’s room at the Amerindian Hostel in Lethem

According to the Stabroek News (Friday, Feb 27), our government spent $316 million on the medical expenses of officials and others during a one-year period from 2012 to 2013. This would suggest we are being governed by literally sick people, which would explain the predicament we now find ourselves in.

The most astonishing thing about the whole scenario is the $2.1 million given to the Minister of Amerindian Affairs for dental work over the one-year period. A complete set of dentures, upper and lower, costs just over $100,000 fitted at the Cheddi Jagan Dental Clinic.

Editor, all of this is taking place while Amerindians are being neglected and disrespected by the ruling administration. Take the case of the Amerindian Hostel in Lethem for one example. The caretaker’s room and kitchen are in a deplorable condition, with rotting ceiling, chaotic wiring, and the caretaker and her family having to sleep on the floor for lack of bedframes and other basic furniture. Guest rooms at the hostel are furnished with bed frames and mattresses infested with bedbugs. This hostel has become a refuge for anyone, including Brazilians, seeking shelter.

To crown it all, the caretaker has been told that she will have to pay from her meagre stipend the electricity bill for the entire hostel.

In contrast, huge amounts of public money are budgeted for repairs to government buildings occupied by government workers in Lethem. Many of them have tiled floors, air-conditioners, recessed lighting; some even have hot water showers and marble toilet sinks.

Another scandal is the millions of dollars spent on non-functioning solar-powered water pumps and water systems for Amerindian villages around the Region. After this expenditure of public funds, potable water remains the greatest problem for Amerindians. In some villages the situation is so dire that people cannot afford to offer a visitor a drink of water. To add insult to injury, Guyana Water Authority personnel make regular visits to those villages as part of their mandate to ensure the population is supplied with water.

The humiliation of an Aishalton Secondary School teacher by a member of the Presidential Guard, and the empty allegation of rape against the Touchau of Moco Moco by officials of the PPP, further expose the disrespect shown to Amerindians by those that govern us. If the teacher was indeed drunk and disrupting the meeting, as some claimed, then the police should have been called to institute necessary action and charges. It is not the duty of bodyguards to physically assault members of the public in such instances, unless the security of the President is compromised.

From the Moco Moco incident it can clearly be seen that the PPP, trying to bulldoze its way into the villages, does not respect the rules laid out in the Amerindian Act, nor by extension the Amerindian people.

In closing for now, Amerindian villages do not have full ownership of minibuses, other vehicles, solar panels and other equipment handouts by government. All of it remains the property of the government, subject to conditions specified by officials.

Yours faithfully,

Patrick Fitzpatrick

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