M Maxwell’s letter of June 2 in Stabroek News, captioned ‘The Granger presidency has signalled a troubling inclination to authoritarianism’ states that at this time in our history a national cadet corps programme is not appropriate. Mr Maxwell is, of course, writing from his perspective, obviously insulated from the other Guyana he may have awareness of but may not be confronted with. To illustrate why I think the disciplined experience would be a positive thing for an obviously damaged social value structure, I must take you back to 1996, when along with a friend whom I trusted in law enforcement, I had begun to document the effects of the rising drug trade in Guyana. Through the friend’s assistance I had made a special case study of a now demolished Lacytown drug yard. But though subsequently demolished I was not astonished that under new owners in the very same space, the old activities resurfaced.
My efforts at that time were self-financed, not because I’m an altruist but I had read the 1989 non-fiction modern horror classic, The Cocaine Wars’ by Paul Eddy and others, and how Mama Coca, dismantled communities and governments by the savage death toll of open combat. I had found no funding and hardly any support, because the consequences of the drug trade were considered negligible in comparison to the finances it was capable of generating. In addition there was ‘fear,’ for at the initial stages Mama Coca had demonstrated her sinister first nature, with the assassination of policeman Howard Cummings in 1995. This would repeat itself years later with the murder of ASP Murray and a colleague. Today, 2015, we have thousands of drug addicts across this country. It has become as expected, an epidemic, destabilising families and communities in a country of chronic unemployment, where there is hardly any money for the detoxing care of addicted family members. There are only two private institutions, and the most successful of the two, operates outside of state support. Cocaine, marijuana, hallucinogenic pills are common, functioning as a driving force behind our accelerated crime wave.
The past PPP government, as Mr Maxwell is well aware, did not focus on the well-being of the nation, but rather cultivated a close-knit, super loyal, talentless, vocal support group, and now, they have the audacity to pronounce themselves as witch-hunted.
How then, do we proceed to erect the mental bastions to cultivate the discipline and self-esteem crucial to stem the tide of almost daily murders, a large number revealed to have been committed by drug-affected minds? Mothers are beaten by children ‘who want a raise fuh smoke.’ This situation cannot be addressed other than by a philosophy under the guidance of disciplined tutelage. Many malicious myths have been constructed to demonize organizations like the Guyana Youth Corps, the National Service and the Pioneer Corps, a concept that we borrowed from Israel and that existed in most of the countries we admire. These organizations have trained thousands of young Guyanese, exposing them to skills and ideas that have broadened their horizons; I can testify to that.
To conclude, I must insert the fact that those organizations were not political centres, yet the PPP demonized them to the point of preventing its own constituency from participating in its skills training.
At present ‘folly’ is shouting loudest, and there’s a general opinion that public office means ‘hustle’ rather than service. Anything from an upgrade to a driver’s licence can be bought, to the detriment of public safety. The reconstruction has to begin somewhere, and all of us must use the example of our history; several British governors who came to this country were military officers. The very structure of Georgetown evolved from the vision of a French naval officer who in 1782 after the tentative limited efforts of the British the year before, pronounced the intention “To establish a capital, which would become a business centre; where religion would have a temple, Justice a palace, war its arsenals, commerce its counting-houses and industry its factories, where also the inhabitants might enjoy the advantage of social intercourse.” Thus, the beginning of our Georgetown.