I recently returned to Guyana after a brief trip to the United States. The trip afforded me the opportunity to interact with several Guyanese, some of whom I have not met for years.
Based on conversations, I get the impression that many Guyanese are willing to return home either on holiday or to stay permanently, but they are very concerned about their safety, especially following the recent prison fiasco in which several prisoners escaped from custody. The crime situation is uppermost in the minds of most Guyanese I interacted with.
There is growing concern also over what appears to be a return to authoritarian rule in the country. Many expressed fear to even return home on holiday due to the perception of crime which, even though somewhat exaggerated, could impact negatively on the economy in terms of tourist arrivals and consequently foreign exchange inflows.
Guyanese, especially those who spent their formative years in Guyana before taking up residence in North America, long to come back home if the objective and subjective conditions in the country improve. The emerging oil and gas economy provide a ray of hope, but this is unlikely to be enough unless supported by an enabling political environment based on democratic and good governance, and the rule of law.
The potential for diaspora engagement and involvement in our development processes are enormous, but the mood appears to be one of pessimism in the short to medium term outlook. This is why it is so critical not to send out mixed signals regarding the future of this country. The government in particular has an obligation to initiate the process of constitutional reforms in the direction of democratic and inclusive governance. The signals emanating from the current APNU+AFC government are not encouraging in this regard.
Guyanese at home and abroad look forward to a better Guyana. It is time for our politicians to rise to the occasion and put the good of the country above narrow partisan and sectarian interest.