“The troubles”: Just how many were killed?

-And who (actually) were they? -Oil-wealth advice - from Raphael and Rawle

Look friends, I’m one (dubious) fan of our Historian-President’s penchant for naming things. His Excellency has the right (?) and the expertise (?) for coining phrases, words, descriptions for new observances (GDF, “arrivals”) new vehicles, old Convention Centres, even periods in our history.

From a veiled political perspective, he has branded the period 2002 to 2009 (to 2014/15?) “The troubles.” A few months ago he explained that he was referring to that post-2002 jailbreak to 2007/2008. Which law-abiding citizen living through that period here can forget the unprecedented wave of robberies, murders, “Executions” and multiple massacres? They together constitute His Excellency’s “troubles”, I suppose.

Amidst the crime-wave, but as it subsided in intensity, President Jagdeo somehow superintended two major international, stress- relief  events—World-Cup Cricket (2007) and  a CARIFESTA (2008). However, our current President- Historian, Soldier and freshly- minted Politician- is about to operationalize a promise he announced when he was leader of the parliamentary opposition, of the PNCR and of APNU. Another Commission of Inquiry is upon us! And I have so many concerns. Why?

Because this one is going to delve into the period of His Excellency’s Troubles. Soon we the citizens, the concerned, the relatives, the survivors, even the victims and perpetrators will know the terms of reference. What exactly will this inquiry investigate? For which period? Who will testify and be made, be brought to testify? Who will offer facts verifiable? Or even truth? Is the exercise to really bring closure? To open old wounds? To witchhunt? To discover and punish the guilty? Will the hidden manipulative intellectual authors be exposed?

Oh what a (partial) list of questions above. But that’s what this inquiry is to be about. Strangely and personally, somehow I care not who are chosen to constitute this commission. (They are bound to attract high-tech criticism anyhow.)

So, who were killed?

Killed, executed, murdered on purpose or by mistake. Massacred by numbers. This is all this local “Truth Commission” will grapple with. And I have, for years afterwards, always wondered where certain numbers came from. Who computed the hundreds, the thousands?

Hundreds of Afro-Guyanese youth? So amidst the murderous criminal enterprise, racism and elements of ethnic cleansing were injected? Amongst those either affected, involved or interested, both evidence and speculation can now run riot. And there are so many personal reminiscences of that murderous period. Even for me who seemed to be relatively removed from the frightening actions.

For example: At my then recreational oasis by the Seawall – the Carifesta (GNS) Sports complex – dozens of policemen would retreat for relative safety in their civvies. It was there one headmistress from Buxton told tales of her female students being scared of, or benefiting from the escaped bandits who enjoyed sanctuary in and to the south of that famous village. And Police Commissioner Winston Felix, who was then sent to source weaponry for his force, even visited Buxton to talk security and peace. Most reliable sources told me of the professionalism of one-time soldier turned rogue Blackie London and the dubious ethic of Andrew Douglas who freed the son of a very dear friend of mine because the victim “co-operated”. (One newspaper very nearly compromised that situation as it strategically scored scoops.)

And alas! I recall speaking to a constable who hailed me from his Bartica Station. One week later he was one of the murdered policemen there. And I attended the funeral – for some reason – of a little girl at Enterprise (ECD) shot by the Fineman/Skinny murderous marauders. Both victims were Indo.

Now I hear that this mother of all inquiries will be diffused into many. So stand by for the overseas “witnesses”, the scores of victims’ “survivors”, the political revelations, the testimonies that might win or lose electoral votes. And for welcome sales of newspapers!

Oil wealth: Raphael and Rawle

How do you react to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) virtually instructing its member government – the Republic of Guyana – to put all petroleum revenue payments immediately into a Sovereign Wealth/Natural Resources Fund? You-all discuss…

Now, Frankly Speaking, I’m an interested observer of lawyer-politician Minister Raphael Trotman. No space here to repeat my fascination with is personal strategies. Rather, I marvel that he is the President’s choice, the APNU version of Robert Persaud another one-time presidential favourite, now in ministerial charge of this country’s natural resources – including oil and gas embedded in various under-oceans wells.

A few remarks from Minister Raphael quite recently: “We made a find of petroleum oil…sweet oil they call it…it doesn’t take much refining…it can be poured into a vehicle with minimum refining…we are going to be inheriting more money than we can ever imagine and can begin to spend…with less than a million people, each of us is going to be wealthy in US dollars in a few years time…”

The above quotes are taken from a short piece appearing in the Kaieteur News just recently. The Honourable Raphael has not refuted same.

Now read a more restrained Economist Rawle Lucas who happens to head the Board of the Guyana Revenue Authority which will feature in collecting the oil and gas takings (for the Fund): “Guyanese need to temper their expectations of the emerging oil and gas sector despite the fact that the country stands to earn significant revenues from the new commodity,” cautions Mr Lucas. “Our export of primary products will not change. The export profile will not change. All oil will do for us, at least in the immediate future, is to add or expand our production structure…”

‘…the country will be losing foreign reserves from lower sugar exports but with the advent of oil some of that slack will be picked up…” Economist Lucas has much, much more to predict and explain relevant to the implications and consequences of the imminent actual production of oil here.

Useful conversations there must be. How I wish I was in some position to simplify the basic issues. Especially for the youth.

Ponder well…

Coming soon – or for the attention of young journalists and commentators: the Chinese – welcome or fear them?

His Excellency’s second term – and his restructured military.

Will any of the COI’s discuss Opposition Leader Hoyte’s attendance at Blackie’s funeral where the national flag featured?

What is the procedure if say, former Minister Gajraj refuses to testify?

’Til next week!


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