Our Diaspora, Irma and Immigration

-The PNC at 60 (Part 3)

Uncharacteristically, I begin today being sorry for myself and “hurt” because my virtually pioneer observations on certain issues are hardly ever recognized. Months and/or years after my offerings, “others” snatch a limelight.

I soon recognized and understand the reason(s) for the above. Boo-hoo-hoo, it is (partly) because I am unlettered! No high school nor university exposure. I remain hurt at not being a trained, science-based analyst. My own fault! Take the issue of our Guyanese Diaspora. Since the early years of this Man-in-the-Street column I have explored the phenomenon. Where are our countrymen? Why? When? Climaxing on 2011 I have several pieces on the Diaspora, remittances and “organizing Guyanese abroad.”

You see as a young teacher I was fascinated over the issue of Israel’s survival as against Palestinian Rights. My wife had ploughed through a very thick novel (“Oh Jerusalem”???) on the issue which also featured the powerful role of Golda Meir who worked Israel’s Diaspora relentlessly. In fact that’s when I learnt that “Diaspora” had to do with the “dispersal” or “scattering” of peoples far from their native lands. And a few years ago I agonised when then President Ramotar faltered in his weak efforts to mobilise and benefit from our hundreds of thousands of citizens resident abroad – structurally.


My “Origin” Notes – 2011-2013

Now that the more qualified are now hot on the issue of the Diaspora, I blow very short blasts on my own trumpet about my commentaries up to 2011-2013.

Excerpts: “Please realise that I appreciate that the populations of all parts of our world had their origins in emigration and migration. With the possible exception of early Africa where all mankind began – whether by creation or evolution…”

“I bet Israel has a vibrant agency which keeps in touch with Israeli Jews around the globe. India, Jamaica, Japan and certain countries in Africa and Latin America must also surely do. In a formal, structured governmental way to supplement the informal but sustained people-to-people relationship.”

(In July 2011): “I suspect that if Mr Granger and his GDF/Police Officer–Corps- type campaign prevail on Polling Day a Department of the Diaspora and Re-migration will be established… the love, resources, energies and loyalty of expatriate Guyanese will then be properly mobilised…”

In other columns I discussed the role of remittances citing figures from the IDB’s multilateral investment funds and about how the “sending countries” profit significantly when cash is remitted to poor cousins here. No need to be ever “ashamed!”

And more than four years ago I mentioned the expertise of our own Dr Lear Matthews who has spoken and written extensively on what he describes as hometown associations (HTAs). These can run the gamut from professional groupings, to cultural associations to schools support to medical brigades et al. Hope they know of Dr Matthews.


Outreach now, tragi-comedy…

So, besides recent Diaspora outreaches by government and university right here, imagine my hopeful pleasure reading about the high-profile meeting on Guyana’s “Draft Diaspora Engagement Strategy and Action Plan” convened last Saturday in New York.

That forum, reportedly, was supported by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) which collaborated fully with our government.

Great expectations and hope attend these consultations. I get the feeling however that this one will result – eventually, hopefully swiftly – in solid practical “engagements” with our hundreds of thousands resident abroad. (Forgive me now for advancing two “strange” reasons: last Saturday’s consultant /speaker – on “a sustainable diasporic relationship” – was a Mr Arnon Mantver from Israel; secondly the promise of oil on the Atlantic horizon is a mighty “pulling factor”.)

Quite often in disasters and great tragedy, humour and comedy emerge. If only to keep spirits up. The hurricanes that have devastated Caribbean islands, where Guyanese have found themselves – have caused governments to waive some stringent immigration requirements. Trinidad has led the way offering Dominicans temporary domicile. Guyana sent Immigration officials to Saint Maarten and Tortola to assist affected Guyanese nationals, as necessary. The joke? I hear that when some Guyanese were being offered relief in certain islands they would not accept; they still laid low. They did not want to expose that they were illegal! Of course some of the more shrewd and naughty on hearing that the islands’ immigration computer systems and records were down, quickly assumed different nationalities even accents!


 PNC: Sixty in six days (Part 3)

Yes, in six days from today (October 05) the People’s National Congress (PNC) will celebrate 60 years of its founding.

So in my own brief personalized review I ended last week with the reminder that “Founder-Leader” LFS Burnham dumped the United Force and formed the 1969-1973 government on his own.

I became a PNC member in 1973 – Golden Arrow group, Kitty. Comrade Burnham was born in Kitty so we had to be extra sharp. But amidst the PNC’s sterling achievements during that period, locally and on the world stage, some valid concerns about electoral rigging and certain heavy-handed PNC tactics were emerging. Yet its period saw the participation of Martin Carter, Desmond Hoyte, Shirley Field-Ridley-Patterson, David Singh, Jeffrey Thomas, Margaret Ackman, Zeeheerudeen, Phillip Duncan, John Joaquin and a host of other emerging stalwarts who were to aid and abet the PNC’s political domination for another two decades.

In Kitty and beyond we saw the Party as real hope for “the small man” and Guyana as a whole. Despite my own “suspicions” I hold the PNC in high esteem still. Party paramountcy and the Declaration of Sophia were on the horizon however. More later.

But as October 05, 2017 looms, PNC female General Secretary Amna Ally reports that her Party, under David Arthur Granger, is “united and strong, sixty years on.” She recently recounted the PNC’s national achievements between 1964 and 1992. They were formidable. But were they lasting? They were indeed integral to this country’s survival then. But in truth, the PPP had to deal with brutal challenges in October 1992. Until I return to this personal “series” – Happy 60th, PNC!



1) Helluva assessment of David Granger’s stewardship (style) in this Sunday Stabroek editorial. Wow!

2) I know it has to be confidential/secret, but what is the Police Force doing to recapture the remaining escapees?

3) Can you name any local commercial bank that is truly customer-friendly? GBTI??

’Til next week!



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