Lamenting Guyana’s sub-culture of corruption and thievery

-Pre-empting and preventing the (oil) resource curse

Being futile? Another attempt to be most brief today? Lead caption presents a repetitive lament. Followed by two “advisories”.

By “lament” I mean “a prolonged expression of regret”. Not mourning or sorrow. But perhaps we Guyanese – no longer innocent and upright as in decades past – should mourn the new “morality”.

For do you realise that a sizeable portion of the population, being youthful, would find it challenging to define right from wrong? Would care little about honesty and just what is lawful? And that this state of affairs is akin to social decay – if not an introduction to societal anarchy?

But Frankly Speaking, just as we over-sixties, over-seventies/eighties are about to lament just what the current generation has ushered in, it should be “sobering” to realise that it was the oldsters – those now in the twilight of life, who really and actually spawned society’s breakdown into every conceivable social ill now prevalent. How so?

Well somewhere there is still this song titled “Don’t blame the children”. The timely and provocative lyrics remind us all that it was not the youth who owned breweries and distilleries; not the youth who owned and used chemicals to turn coca leaves into crack cocaine; teenagers don’t own acres of land to grow cannabis; and it is not the youths who head and spearhead mischief and corruption in governments! Powerful right?

It is my own viewpoint that real social breakdown in these parts – my Guyana – began when internal dissenters and external forces colluded to foment all types of strife to remove the Cheddi Jagan administration of 1961. Protests in the streets and workers’ strikes preceded nightly racial clashes and by 1964 Guyanese had to begin boarding up their doors and windows.


Executive lawlessness, thievery,corruption…

Enter Forbes Burnham’s PNC’s reign – 1964 to 1992. It always pains me personally to acknowledge that my own visionary national leader and Caribbean Statesman succumbed to absolute power. Succumbed to get real transformative and revolutionary things done – feeding, housing ourselves, creating a prosperous national destiny – then allowed extreme power to flaunt autocratic rule.

People’s electoral will was stolen; children witnessed both riotous beatings of opposition folks – and all elements of electoral theft. (I now swear that just after one Election Day, I overheard at the Vlissengen Residence, a somewhat chastened Dr Ptolemy Reid quietly telling Dr Shahabuddeen that a youngster told his friends (proudly) that “me mudda vote four times for PNC today”.)

So along with some marked material progress the rot set in then. Both “Indians” and “Blacks” fled the shortages and political uncertainty, beginning our infamous brain drain.

 By 1985 Cheddi’s “Critical Support” was snubbed by Dessie Hoyte, who in turn was made to succumb to the American Political Broker, Jimmy Carter.

Then, oh boy, after the PPP’s 1992 victory and Cheddi’s demise, two factors took lawlessness and corruption to the most excessive heights. A significant portion of the population demonstrated all types of defiance against government, law and order. Secondly, corruption and drugs trafficking soared by 1998 to 2011.


The cancer continues

Sadly, corrupt practices are now cancerous in Guyanese society. They spread over almost two generations (1964-2015). From the body politic to the youth (teenagers) some element of dishonesty, then thievery, is engendered, then practised.

No corner of society is spared! Just check this recent partial listing of entities where corruption and thievery were either alleged, discovered, covered-up or prosecuted: Office of the President, government ministries, the Revenue Authority (poor, poor Mr Statia), the Gold Board, the “Regions”, the Police Force, the GEA, credit unions, Lotto Fund, travel agencies, cambios, small church (“pastors”), private security services, etc, etc, etc.

So what is to be done? Perhaps Hammie Green was not the best messenger to propose a national “Moral and Spiritual Revival”, but only such a programme with the new generation could retrieve this society. But who or what qualifies to lead such? Parents? Teachers? Political leaders? Civil society? His Excellency? You tell me!


Avoiding the resource curse

Please recognise that I realise when I am “out of my depth”. Hence I avoid commenting on the debate deluge over our imminent oil and gas sector.

But every day I read, read, read! Two other New York Times contributors have outlined elements of the oil resource curse: commodity prices rise and fall globally with implications for small countries’ economies and budgets; oil or minerals are so valuable they can replace other vitally-necessary sectors; governmental corruption with international greed and assistance; no solid legislative or institutional policies to save and distribute the oil wealth; advance borrowing from expected revenues along with overspending.

So our expert knowledgeable managers know, can pre-empt and prevent. Right?


His Excellency and the media

It’s not yet presidential arrogance, born of a military commander. No. But it’s nearing such.

Frankly Speaking, I feel that His Excellency is comfortable with Officer Archer’s communication outfit, the DPI and his Green House Spokesman, Minister Joe. No more Luncheons! What?

I’m trivialising an important Presidential democratic responsibility? Yes. So what about the private media boycotting a few government events to make their point? Ho-Ho! Not here eh?


Reflections please…

Columnists and commentators should be invited to His Excellency’s imminent media interactions.

When parents receive stolen items from errant criminal-minded children, what results?

Man! My by-gone campaigning instincts are aroused when I see Comrade Joe working his party groups from New York to New Amsterdam. He walks with his literature and Comrades Bobby and Larry (on Facebook). Impressive – and obviously well-funded!

But I like Comrade Volda. Who does the Comrade Leader/His Excellency favour/prefer to be Chairperson?

’Til next week!


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